Penn State had a foul night, so it was a good thing for the Nittany Lions that Allen Roberts was ready off the bench.
Roberts scored 10 of his team-high 15 points in the first half as Penn State netted a 68-59 victory over Duquesne on Wednesday.
D.J. Newbill added 13 points as Penn State (8-3) won for the sixth time in its past eight games. Point guard Tim Frazier had a career-high 13 assists along with 11 points for the Nittany Lions, who won despite having only 10 free-throw attempts as compared to the Dukes' 34.
Ovie Soko had 19 points to lead the Dukes (3-4), who shot 27 percent from the field and made just four of 23 attempts from 3-point range. Soko, who made 12 of 14 free throws, played just 22 minutes before fouling out.
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Roberts helped the Nittany Lions survive a foul-plagued first half. Four of the five Penn State starters had two fouls and so did Roberts. The guard nailed two 3-pointers as several of his teammates sat out the final minutes of the half with the foul trouble.
Penn State trailed only once 11-10 in the contest. Leading 18-15, the Nittany Lions used a 9-1 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Donovon Jack, to take control. They led the Dukes 35-26 at the break, despite having committed 14 fouls in the half.
Duquesne shot 25 percent from the field — including 2 of 12 from 3-point range — in the first half. The Dukes also missed seven of 17 free throw attempts.
Penn State began the second half on an 8-2 run to open up a 15-point lead. The Dukes answered by scoring 14 of the next 18 points of the game to pull within five — but that would be the closest they’d get .
Minutes later, Duquesne was within 50-44 after a pair of free throws by Soko with 8:40 left. But the Lions answered with an 8-0 run that all but put the game away. Penn State led by as many as 19 in the second half.
Through the first 37 minutes of the game, Penn State went to the foul line just six times.
Jack, a former verbal commitment to Duquesne who switched to Penn State after the Dukes fired former coach Ron Everhart, had a career-high 12 rebounds, nine points and six blocks. He has combined for 13 blocks over the past two games.
Ross Travis grabbed a team-high 13 boards and added nine points.
Playing its second game in the city of Pittsburgh over a nine-day span, Penn State fared better than it did in a nine-point loss at Pitt on Dec. 3. Counting a 90-77 win over Marshall in between, the Lions have combined to hold their past three opponents to 27.8 percent first-half field goal shooting.
Unlike they did against Pitt (which shot 58.5 percent in the second half), however, Penn State continued to stifle the Dukes through the final buzzer. Other than a stretch of about seven minutes midway through the second half, Duquesne's shooting was cold from all over the court.
Only one Dukes player — junior forward Dominique McKoy — made more shots than he missed. McKoy finished with 12 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Jeremiah Jones also had 12 points for Duquesne.