PHILADELPHIA - If Penn entered Tuesday night's game against intrastate rival Penn State with a game plan, those ideas were quickly squashed by the Nittany Lions.
Penn's Big Ten Conference foe came into The Palestra and shot lights out over the first nine minutes of the contest, blowing out to an 18-point lead that forced the Quakers into scramble mode yet appeared like it would be more than enough most of the night.
After starting the second half down 25 (49-24), Penn slowly worked its way back, and got all the way to within ten points with 3:28 left when Tyler Bernardini hit a three-pointer. The Quakers then forced a Nittany Lion turnover, and after collecting the ball freshman Zack Rosen found himself open and popped another trey attempt. This one refused to fall, though, and Penn State scored the next five points over a 1:01 span to regain control and get the victory.
Jack Eggleston had a superb night for Penn, scoring 17 points, grabbing nine rebounds, dishing off three assists and blocking two shots. Harrison Gaines came off the bench to score 16 points in 17 minutes of action, while Kevin Egee had another solid outing with 13 points, four boards and four assists. As for Rosen, all he did was dish outseven more assists without a turnover, giving him 20 assists and no turnovers over Penn's last three games. He also had eight points and three steals.
That said, Penn was done in by the Nittany Lions' backcourt, especially Stanley Pringle in the decisive first half. The PSU senior had 18 points in the first half en route to a game-high 25, hitting five of his seven three-point attempts. Pringle also had six assists in the first half (seven for the game). Talor Battle, meanwhile, was clutch at the foul line down the stretch and finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Jamelle Cornley added his imprint to the contest, scoring 16 points and snaring nine boards.
Penn State set the tone immediately in this contest, as Pringle hit jumpers on each of the Nittany Lions' first three possessions, punctuating it with a trey that made the score 7-0. Bernardini (8 points) sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Battle trifecta, but Penn went ice cold after that as PSU went on a 12-0 run that made the score 22-4. In all, the Quakers' drought was more than six minutes.
Eggleston finally ended the run, but Penn State was hardly through and quickly expanded its lead to 21, at29-8. Penn was never even close to getting in range before the break, and the teams went into the locker room with PSU up 49-24.
PSU's lead was still 24 with 11:23 to play (63-39), before Penn finally made its run. Egee was the catalyst of a 12-2 run, bookending it with a pair of three-pointers and also hitting a pair of free throws. That got the Quakers within 65-51 with 6:47 to play.
It was 71-56 with four minutes to play, when Rosen hit a pair of foul shots and then Bernardini hit his trey to make it a 10-point game. However, following Rosen's missed trey Battle hit a foul shot, and then a Penn turnover led to a layup by David Jackson and yet another turnover turned into two more foul shots by Battle. That was the way the rest of the game went, with PSU hitting its free throws to answer any points the Quakers could get on the board.
Penn is back in action on Saturday, traveling to face the University at Albany (N.Y.). Tip time from SEFCU Arena in Albany is slated for 7 p.m.