Penn State holds on to beat Marshall 73-69
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) Penn State is figuring out how to hang onto a lead.
The Nittany Lions improved to 6-0 when ahead at halftime, building a double-digit advantage and withstanding a furious rally from Marshall to beat the Thundering Herd 73-69 on Saturday night.
Penn State (8-1) is off to its best start since going 9-1 in the 2000-01 season.
''We are learning a lot, but where I stand right now, it's time to take the next step with this group,'' coach Patrick Chambers said. ''And I'm not sure what that means but we will figure it out Monday and Tuesday at practice.''
D.J. Newbill, John Johnson and Brandon Taylor each scored 17 points for Penn State. Newbill added seven rebounds with four assists and Ross Travis grabbed nine boards.
Newbill was held seven points under his team-leading scoring average.
Jay Johnson led Marshall (3-5) with 19 points. Tamron Manning scored 12 while Ryan Taylor and Aleksa Nikolic had 10 points apiece.
''I thought the team gave a good effort,'' said Marshall coach Dan D'Antoni. ''Defensively we did a good job, and did a good job with Newbill.''
Penn State went ahead to stay, 19-17, on a Payton Banks 3-pointer with 6:37 left until halftime. The Nittany Lions finish the half with a 9-2 run and scored the first six points after halftime for its largest lead, 37-24.
After Jack's layup with 8:33 left put Penn State ahead 54-42, Marshall scored seven unanswered points over the next minute and kept chipping away at the deficit.
Jay Johnson made two free throws with 17 seconds remaining to pull Marshall within 70-67.
Penn State's Shep Garner made a free throw with 11 seconds but missed the second attempt. Marshall got the rebound and Nikolic made a layup with 5 seconds left.
After a timeout, Newbill was fouled on the inbounds pass and he made two free throws to seal the win.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions out-rebounded Marshall 46-35. Penn State had 14 turnovers to Marshall's 11, marking the fourth time in five games that the Nittany Lions had more turnovers than their opponent.
''It's a weakness of ours as we turned it over 14 times,'' Chambers said. ''The one stretch we turned it over three times really got them back in the game.''
Marshall: The Thundering Herd lost their fifth straight game under D'Antoni, their first-year coach.
''I just have to be patient and keep working every day,'' D'Antoni said. ''I don't think mentally we have matured enough with our system that we pull these out.''
Penn State: The Nittany Lions host Duquesne on Wednesday.
Marshall: The Thundering Herd play No. 16 West Virginia in Charleston on Dec. 14.