The timely 3-pointer dropped, instantly halted Marshall’s run and rebuilt Penn State’s confidence.
It appeared to be a dagger with more than five minutes remaining, and Nittany Lion forward Brandon Taylor retreated down the court and brought his index finger to his mouth to hush the home crowd in Huntington, W. Va. The Nittany Lions’ lead had dipped to its smallest of the second half on the previous possession, but Taylor created some breathing room for his team and celebrated the big shot.
His passion can provide a jolt of energy for Penn State, but it can contribute to uneven play from the 6-foot-6 forward.
“It definitely gives me a boost,” Taylor said. “Sometimes it can be a gift and a curse. And it’s something that I need to control and if I’m not making shots, I need to work on my emotion.”
Taylor is also working to round out his game as Penn State (10-1) continues its season against Drexel (2-7) at 2 p.m. Saturday at the PPL Center in Allentown. Taylor is third on the team in scoring (10.4 points per game) and second in rebounding (6.1 per game). He’s shooting 39.8 percent from the field, which ranks last among Penn State’s top eight contributors.
Still, Taylor’s confidence and aggression has boosted Penn State offensively at times. He scored 17 points in the win over Marshall two weeks ago, and he’s coming off another 17-point performance in a win over George Washington on Sunday. Taylor has drilled crucial 3-pointers and scored in the post, an area he dedicated his summer to improving.
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers is looking for more efficiency from Taylor, who went scoreless against Duquesne in between his 17-point games.
“He’s maturing into a more complete player,” Chambers said. “He did put up nine 3s (against Marshall), but he’s still maturing into a complete player. He’s very comfortable now on the block. He hit two really nice floaters, which a man of his size is really talented.”
Taylor’s talent makes him one of the Nittany Lions’ top scoring options after D.J. Newbill.
The forward led Penn State in 3-point attempts last season, and he has a team-high 59 3-pointers this season.
But he’s made an effort to operate down low more often after meeting with Chambers at the end of last year.
“He said one thing he wants to do is get me the ball more in the post, and that’s something that I’ve been working on and I’m continuing to work on,” Taylor said.
Taylor has utilized a hook shot. He’s caught the ball beyond the paint, sometimes backing down his defender and sometimes rising up for a jumper.
“He’s hard to guard,” Newbill said. “He can shoot 3s, post up, do a little bit of everything. I think that’s helping us out on the offensive end.”
Taylor has made his mark with big 3-pointers throughout the season.
He nailed back-to-back 3s to spark Penn State in the second half of its win over Akron. They’re shots Chambers said he expected Taylor to hit as his teammates looked to feed him when he got hot.
Penn State turned to Taylor to break George Washington’s 1-3-1 zone Sunday.
The forward set up at the foul line and displayed his midrange game.
He hit a short jumper to give Penn State an 11-point lead with more than nine minutes to play, its largest of the game to that point. Taylor accounted for Penn State’s next bucket, swishing another short jumper to push the lead back to 11.
On the ensuing possession, Taylor missed a 3 from the top of the key and was ready to fire again after Jordan Dickerson grabbed the offensive rebound.
Chambers held his hands up on the sideline, calling for his team to slow down as it reset its offense.
“BT plays with a lot of emotion, with a lot of passion and sometimes we just need to bottle that up a little bit,” Chambers said.
His coach sees him getting closer to becoming a complete player, but Taylor is still working toward that goal.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Taylor said, “so I’m just going to get better every day and try to do other things, maybe not on offense, but just try to work on my complete game.”
Notes: Penn State and Drexel are meeting for the first time since 1992. The Nittany Lions are 4-0 in the series. ... Penn State and Drexel will play next season at the Palestra. ... Chambers and Drexel coach Bruiser Flint both played at Episcopal Academy for coach Dan Dougherty, who retired as the winningest coach in Philadelphia City League history. Flint graduated in 1983, and Chambers graduated in 1989. The coaches will honor Dougherty in a pregame ceremony.