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Penn State’s trio of guards leads Nittany Lions to victory over Mount St. Mary's

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The Penn State Nittany Lions survived a barrage of three-pointers by Mount St. Mary’ s and came away with a 92-82 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center on Dec. 22. The Nittany Lions outscored the Mountaineers 55-36 in the second half.

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The Difference: Penn State held Mount Saint Mary’s without a field goal over the final 3:56 of the game. The Nittany Lions outscored the Mountaineers 12-2 during this stretch – including eight straight to take a 88-80 lead with 1:06 remaining.

Player of the game: John Johnson, a 6-1 guard who made his debut for Penn State after tranferring from Pittsburgh. Johnson came off the bench and a team-high 20 points, including 15 in the second half, on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor.

Johnson was fabulous on the offensive end, scoring in a variety of ways. He scored off the dribble, in transition, nailed two 3-pointers and sank both of his free throws.

Johnson was instrumental in the Nittany Lions (9-4) comeback as he scored eight points in a span of 1:31 to help knot the game at 65-65 with 12:14 to play.

Five other stars:

1. Brandon Taylor and Ross Travis. Taylor and Travis helped the Nittany Lions control the paint. Penn State won the rebound battle 34-29 and had four more offensive boards than Mount Saint Mary’s (11-7). The Nittany Lions outscored the Mountaineers 62-26.

Taylor and Travis combined for 24 points and 12 rebounds, including five on the offensive end.

2. Rashad Whack, Sam Prescott and Byron Ashe. While the trio was red hot in the first half – combing for 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting including eight triples --, they only recorded 19 points in the second half on 5-of-11 shooting.

Whack, Prescott and Ashe also combined to commit nine of the Mountaineers 16 turnovers.

3. D.J. Newbill. Newbill scored nine of Penn State’s first 15 second half points. He wound up scoring 14 of his 18 points in the last half of the game. Newbll has posted double figure scoring efforts in 28 straight contests.

Newbill, who also grabbed six boards, was 5-of-10 from the floor and 8-of-11 from the charity stripe.

4. Julian Norfleet . Norfleet hit severl big shots to keep Mount St. Mary’s in the game. He scored 11 of his game high 22 points in the first half and finished the day 9-of-19 from the floor. Norfleet also added seven assists and three rebounds.

5. Tim Frazier. Frazier contributed 15 points and six assists for Penn State. He ranks 15th on the Nittany Lons all-time scoring list and No. 3 on the school’s assists leaderboard.

Reserve guard John Johnson scored 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half to fuel the Nitanny Lions comeback. Starting guards D.J. Newbill added 18 points while his fellow backcourt mate Tim Frazier added 15 points. Johnson, who was making his debut for Penn State after transferring from Pittsburgh, Newbill and Frazier combined for 40 of the Nittany Lions 55 second half points. Ross Travis and Brandon Taylor also finished in double-figures with 14 and 10 points, respectively.

The first half was close for the majority of the first half , as there were three ties and seven lead changes – the last tie of the half coming at the 6:24 mark. With the score tied at 29-29, Mount St. Mary’s, behind four three-pointers, closed the half on a 17-8 run to take 46-37 halftime lead. For the half, the Mountaineers was 17-of-30 from the floor (56.7 percent) and was 9-of-16 (56.3 percent ) from beyond the arc.

Penn State opened the second half with a 6-0 run to cut the Mountaineer lead to 46-43, but Mount St. Mary's wasn't ready to cede the lead without a fight.

Johnson hit a bucket with 12:14 left to tie the game at 65-65 and for the next 6 minutes, it was a back-and-forth affair.

Penn State took the lead with 5:55 left on two free throws by Newbill. Frazier pushed the lead to 4 on a driving layup.

Mount St. Mary's, however, had one push left. Taylor Danaher threw down a dunk on an inbounds play. On the next possession, Norfleet converted a driving layup to tie the game at 80-80.

Penn State, though, took the lead for the good as Frazier hit a bucket, Travis made a bucket and then grabbed a rebound and made a stick-back and Geno Thorpe took a pass off a steal and made a layup.

Julian Norfleet led the way with 22 points for Mount Saint Mary’s (3-8). Sam Prescott added 18 points for the Mountaineers while Rashad Whack contributed 16 points and Byron Ashe chipped in with 14 points.

Mount St. Mary’s shot 51.9 percent from the field in the game, and was 12-of-26 (.462) from three-point range. Penn State converted 53.2 percent of its shots and was 24-of-30 (.800) at the foul line.

Penn State leads the all-time series 8-0.

Notes:

- Penn State heads into Big 10 play with its best record since 2008-09, when the Nittany Lions were 11-2.

- Penn State has now scored 90 or more points for the third time this season and 80-plus points for the eighth time.

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