By Jarrod Prugar
For the Mirror
UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State scored the first seven points in the game and never looked back as the Nittany Lions took down Saint Francis, 83-53, Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
It was the third straight win for Penn State which outscored the Red Flash, 46-18, in the first half of play. The Nittany Lions were able to find the scoreboard early and often as nine players found the scoreboard before the break.
“Everywhere I’ve been I’ve always talked about let’s build an army,” Penn State coach Mike Rhoades said. “Let’s flat out build an army and an army is everybody’s got each other’s back and the other day was Kanye (Clary)’s day. Today was Demetrius’ (Lilley) day.”
When the dust settled, four Nittany Lions finished with double digits despite a second half where the Red Flash held the Penn State offensive attack to only 34.3 percent shooting.
“I thought we came out in the second half and I don’t like to single out one person in a team sport but I thought Bobby Rosenberger gave us a huge lift,” Saint Francis coach Rob Krimmel said.
Rosenberger paced the Red Flash with 19 points and eight rebounds in his fourth career game.
“He’s a young man that actually had struggled through the first three games and was really hard on himself and it was great to see him come out and impact the game not necessarily with the jump shot, but with how hard he rebounded,” Krimmel said.
Rosenberger’s hard play was no match for Clary and a dynamic Penn State defense that held the Red Flash to 35 percent shooting on the night.
“I think he’s a good player, but I just think he’s going to go up, up, up,” Rhoades said of Clary. “A year from now, two years from now, he’s going to be so dynamic.”
Clary finished the night with 14 points while Zach Hicks and Qudus Wahabe pitched in 12 each. Ace Baldwin, Jr. chipped in 11 of his own for the Nittany Lions who improved to 3-0.
Puff is here
While a comfortable win is night for Penn State, the best news for the Nittany Lions Tuesday was the debut of North Carolina transfer Puff Johnson.
Johnson played 16 minutes and scored six points while adding four rebounds in his first action of the season. He might not have lit the scoresheet up, but his impact was felt in a multitude of other ways for Penn State.
“It was just great to have him out there. He’s a high IQ guy. He plays really hard. He’s physical,” Rhoades said. “He’s always around the ball, but he also can shoot it put on the floor a little bit. He has a good feel so he knows where to be at the right time and has patience on the back side or on defense, to be in perfect help position. He’s a vet.”
Saint Francis has struggled to find some semblance of consistency through their first four games of the season and for good reason, they’ve played some tough competition in not just the Nittany Lions, but also UCLA and San Francisco.
For Krimmel, the focus is on the Red Flash to continue to improve their consistency and gain confidence on the court.
“You go through the first 30 practices and then you have two scrimmages or whatever you have and then you play some games,” Krimmel said. “With our travel schedule the first week, we really didn’t have a chance to get some dedicated practice so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the gym and being able now to correct what we’ve been able to see in games. It’s one thing when you correct from practice when you’re playing against your period, but now you can go out and you can show them on you need to screen a little bit better, you need to cut a little bit harder, you need to get to the spaces. The film is the best teacher.”
Return to the Jaffa
Saint Francis gets back to practice tonight, but it won’t be in Loretto. The Red Flash will return to the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona, a place they called home over 50 years ago.
The practice is open to the public and is scheduled to run from 6-8 p.m.
The Nittany Lions will host Morehead State Friday night while Saint Francis hosts Pitt Greensburg next Monday.
ST. FRANCIS (0-4): Liberis 2-6 0-0 4, Webb 0-0 0-0 0, Gregory 2-10 0-0 6, Moncrief 0-4 3-4 3, Sanon 2-7 0-0 4, Wilborn 3-8 0-0 6, Rosenberger 7-10 2-2 19, Talbert 0-4 0-0 0, Lopez 2-5 0-0 4, Harris 2-3 0-0 4, Humphrey 1-2 1-2 3, Blue 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-60 6-8 53.
PENN STATE (3-0): Hicks 4-10 1-1 12, Wahab 4-5 4-4 12, Baldwin 4-9 2-2 11, Clary 6-12 0-0 14, Kern 2-6 2-2 6, Dunn 3-7 1-2 7, Johnson 2-4 1-3 6, O’Boyle 1-5 2-2 4, Mitchell 0-3 3-4 3, Lilley 3-3 2-3 8, Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Gudmundsson 0-2 0-0 0, Christos 0-0 0-0 0, Conlan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-66 18-23 83.
Halftime-Penn St. 46-18. 3-Point Goals-St. Francis 5-19 (Rosenberger 3-5, Gregory 2-4, Blue 0-1, Harris 0-1, Humphrey 0-1, Moncrief 0-1, Wilborn 0-1, Sanon 0-2, Lopez 0-3), Penn State 7-28 (Hicks 3-8, Clary 2-6, Johnson 1-2, Baldwin 1-4, Dunn 0-1, Gudmundsson 0-1, Kern 0-1, Mitchell 0-2, O’Boyle 0-3). Rebounds-St. Francis 37 (Rosenberger 8), Penn State 36 (Wahab 6). Assists-St. Francis 13 (Sanon 4), Penn State 12 (Baldwin 4). Total Fouls-St. Francis 20, Penn St. 15. A-7,546.
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