Penn State ticket holders were treated to an extra frame of basketball, complimentary Big Macs and an exciting finish to Penn State’s 80-76 overtime victory over Delaware State on Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.
D.J. Newbill had the ball in his hands near half court with the scored tied at 76 and less than 40 seconds remaining in overtime. Sasa Borovnjak stepped out and screened Newbill’s defender, as Penn State’s point guard resumed his reconnoiter to the right.
When the defenders switched, Newbill had the advantage he needed to hit what was the game-winning basket, and give Penn State (6-4) its first winning streak of the season.
“We went to a high pick and roll and they switched, which left their big on me,” Newbill said. “I saw an alley and I just went for it. Coach said, ‘If you see it, take it, be a basketball player, don’t be a robot,’ and I just did it with confidence.”
Newbill’s right-handed layup over the Hornets’ Kendall Gray dropped in the basket with 30 seconds remaining. Newbill finished with a team-high 22 points, corralled five rebounds and dished out five assists.
Freshman Brandon Taylor (seven points, four rebounds) would make two free throws to secure the game two possessions later.
In a season already filled with new experiences for several Nittany Lions, Penn State saw a big lead teeter on the brink for the second straight game but held on to earn perhaps some invaluable on-the-job training in the process.
“Absolutely, last year we lost a lot of close games,” said Jermaine Marshall, who filled the stat sheet with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“(Today) we were able to get stops and that’s the key to winning close ones,” he continued. “So I’m very proud that we did that and I think our guys showed some heart just knuckling down and getting stops.”
Penn State’s breach of the 70-point plateau earned fans sandwiches for the second week in a row.
Penn State began the second half with a 37-29 advantage and later extended it to 55-39 after an eight-point spurt from freshman Donovon Jack, which earned him an ovation from the 5,751 in attendance at the Bryce Jordan Center after he pummeled a Casey Walker shot out of bounds and was subbed out with 8:13 remaining.
Jack finished with eight points, three rebounds and one-credited blocked shot in 12 important minutes. Borovnjak scored 14 points and nabbed eight rebounds as a starter for the third straight game.
But the Hornets would not be undone. Much like they did in the first half, Delaware State made a run behind 11 second-half points from Albert Thomas (13) and 10 from Tyshawn Bell (15).
Casey scored a game-high 24 points and was unstoppable in the first half (17 points), perhaps another reason why Jack — in addition to his offense — received an ovation for finally taming one of Casey’s shots.
After a parade of Nittany Lions missed free throws late, Newbill stepped confidently to the line and drained two in regulation for a 69-66 lead with 20 seconds left in regularly scheduled programming.
But a 3-pointer in the left corner by Bell with 12 seconds left produced the game’s second tie score of the game – the first coming at the 0-0 opening tip. Regulation ended that way as attempts by Nick Colella and Borovnjak went begging.
The Hornets’ would finally swipe the lead in overtime after Thomas tricked Marshall with a seductive right-to-left crosser and hit a floater for a 71-70 lead with 2:55 left in overtime, leaving Chambers to regroup with a well-placed timeout.
But on the ensuing Penn State possession, Marshall saw his shot sent away rudely by Gray, which led to a Tahj Tate floater in the lane and a 73-70 lead.
Marshall would get the last word though. After another Bell three put Penn State down 76-73, the junior hit a three of his own to tie it up at 76 and tee it up for Newbill’s late-game heroics.
“Proud of this group,” Patrick Chambers said after the game. “Down three and could have folded the tents. Could have said ‘oh woe is me, we lost this game I can’t believe it.’”
“(Last year we gave up leads) but this year no – that’s progress. That’s what I want to take out of this game,” Chambers said with a smile. “I’m trying to be positive here.”