STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) A solid defensive effort enabled Penn State to inch closer to its coach’s season-long goal of playing a complete, 40-minute game on Sunday.
DJ. Newbill scored 20 points, Brandon Taylor added 17, and Penn State defeated GW 64-51 for its eighth straight win.
The Nittany Lions (10-1), who also got 10 points from Shep Garner, shot 38.7 percent (18 of 53) from the field and were 9 of 9 from the free throw line.
But six blocks from Jordan Dickerson – out of 11 total blocks – and 10 rebounds from Ross Travis helped shut down a Colonials team that averaged nearly 74 points per game.
”Dickerson made some huge blocks and he was definitely a force today; all our bigs contributed,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. ”We’re getting there. We didn’t start the game off really well, a couple of turnovers, maybe some nerves. But once the game got level I really liked what the team did as far as defense and rebounding and communicating.”
George Washington (6-3), which was led by 15 points each from Kevin Larsen and Patricio Garino, consistently shot from under the basket but made good on only 18 of 53 shots for 34 percent. The Colonials failed to score on eight 3-point shots and were just 15 of 23 from the free throw line.
”It was a disappointing performance by us,” GW coach Mike Lonergan said. ”We did a terrible job at the free throw line. To see a team block 11 of our shots, I think that’s a tough stat. As a team we just really played poorly today. It was mostly just energy and effort so I’m definitely disappointed.”
Penn State’s start is its best since the 1995-96 team jumped to a 13-0 record and ultimately advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions outrebounded GW 40-35. Its 16 offensive rebounds, many of which came late in the second half, enabled Penn State to kick the ball out to the backcourt and kill time while holding leads that ranged from 10 to 15 points down the stretch.
”They were devastating,” Lonergan said. ”They had a lot of offensive rebounds. ”We were playing defense too long, we don’t have a deep bench and our guys were tired.”
Chambers was able to play 10 men and all either scored or contributed on defense.
”Every guy was dialed in, totally focused and understanding their role,” Chambers said. ”That’s the way we need to play and it starts on the defensive end and our defense was really solid today.”
GW found itself in the bonus situation with 12:45 to play and already had shot 20 free throws to Penn State’s five.
The Colonials continued to work the ball inside while Penn State was satisfied with shooting from the outside. Taylor was successful on back-to-back 3-pointers and Penn State led 48-39.
”It was definitely a good feeling to see some of my shots go through the hoop,” Taylor. ”Lately, I haven’t been shooting the ball as well.”
Newbill hit just a single 3-pointer and was 6 of 17 from the field but was 7 of 7 from the line. He chipped in with three rebounds.
”Defending rebounds is our staple,” Newbill said. ”We can’t always rely on hitting shots, hitting 3’s, but we can always rely on our effort and energy and how we’re taught to move on defense. We knew our defense was going to win us this game.”
Penn State: GW marked the third opponent from the Atlantic 10 that Penn State has faced this season. The Nittany Lions had won 113 of 190 games against the A-10 heading into Sunday. . There were 10 blocked shots in the first half, six by Penn State.
George Washington: In the common foes department, GW defeated Charlotte 78-70; Penn State fell to Charlotte 106-97 in double overtime. . The Colonials, 24-9 last year and an NCAA qualifier, hadn’t faced Penn State since 1991; they’ll host the Nittany Lions next season.
Penn State faces Drexel at Allentown on Saturday.
GW plays Ohio Dec. 22 at Hawaii in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamondhead Classic.