Big second half lifts Penn St over Lehigh, 70-56
STATE COLLEGE (AP)—Talor Battle scored 21 points, David Jackson added 14 and Penn State used a big second-half spurt on Friday to overcome an early 10-point deficit and defeat Lehigh 70-56 in the season opener.
The Nittany Lions (1-0) outscored the Mountain Hawks 49-29 in the second half, sparked by Jackson’s 13 after halftime and a dunk by Jeff Brooks with seven-plus minutes left for a 13-point lead.
Freshman Anthony D’Orazio scored 17 for Lehigh (0-1), but Penn State held returning Patriot League player of the year, C.J. McCullom, to only seven.
Battle, who hit a first-half, buzzer-beating 3 to bring Penn State within six, hit another 3 from the corner with 15 minutes left to tie the game at 33.
“It gave us a little bit of juice,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said of Battle’s buzzer beater. “Sometimes it takes one play to kind of ignite you and get you going. And he made a big shot for us.”
Battle reached 1,547 points to pass Geary Claxton for sixth on Penn State’s career scoring list.
Penn State is trying to rebound from an 11-20 season, when it finished last in the Big Ten. They return four of their top five scorers, including Battle.
Four Nittany Lions finished in double digits, including Brooks (10) and Billy Oliver, who added 10 off the bench.
Friday’s win was Penn State’s sixth in a row on opening night, and the ninth consecutive over Lehigh dating back to 1987-88.
D’Orozio had 14 points at the half, playing much of the period after McCollum picked up his second foul with 11-plus minutes left. Another freshman, forward Mackey McKnight, finished with 13 points.
“I believe the game was a tale of two halves,” Lehigh coach Brett Reed said. “In the second half, our focus was a little bit off.”