PHILADELPHIA (AP) — D.J. Newbill was happy to be playing in his hometown. Tim Frazier was just happy to be playing basketball again.
Together, the Penn State pair showed why they might just make up one of the best backcourts in the country.
Saturday at the historic Palestra, Frazier and Newbill combined to score 48 points as Penn State built a huge first-half lead on its way to an 83-71 win over Penn.
Paced by 59.4 percent first-half shooting, Penn State (2-1) led by as many as 25 points before coasting into halftime with a commanding 47-24 lead – which proved to be more than enough of a cushion to fend off a small second-half rally from the host Quakers.
“We made shots early,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “And I think that was the difference.”
Newbill and Frazier never took their foot of the gas, penetrating through the Penn defense at will all afternoon. Frazier finished with a game-high 29 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field and 11-for-12 shooting from the free-throw line, while Newbill, a Philly native, scored 19 points on 6-for-14 shooting.
“It’s great playing against these Big 5 teams,” said Newbill, who played his high school basketball at Philly’s Strawberry Mansion High. “You always know it’s going to be a street fight. Penn was down but they gave us a fight to the end.”
Darien Nelson-Henry scored a team-high 21 points for the Quakers (1-2), who pulled within 12 on a pair of Miles Jackson-Cartwright free throws with 11:23 left. But the comeback stalled after Nelson-Henry and Jackson-Cartwright were each whistled for their fourth fouls within 2 minutes of each other midway through the second half.
Frazier also made sure Penn never pulled within single digits, scoring nine points over the final 10 minutes. The senior guard, who missed almost the entire 2012-13 campaign after tearing his left Achilles tendon, is averaging 22.3 points per game through the first three games this season.
“It was great,” Frazier said. “Just to get the opportunity to play the game of basketball in a great arena like this was so much background, it was an honor to be able to step on the court and be able to participate this year, especially after sitting out all of last year.”
Nobody else scored in double figures for the Nittany Lions, who bounced back from a 90-80 home loss to Bucknell on Wednesday. But Penn State got big contributions from Ross Travis (11 rebounds) and Allen Roberts, who went 3 for 5 from 3-point range.
“Those 3s were huge to keep the momentum going and keep them at bay,” Chambers said. “They would go on a little bit of a run and he would hit a timely 3. That’s exactly what he has to be on this team.”
Fran Dougherty and Tony Hicks each scored 14 points for Penn, which began to use its size advantage to assert some dominance in the paint after the break. But despite the 6-foot-11 Nelson-Henry powering Penn on a quick 10-0 run early in the second half that sliced Penn State’s lead to 15 with 17:53 remaining, the Quakers never managed to steal the momentum away from their in-state rivals and get the Palestra crowd back into the game.
For the game, the Quakers shot 20 for 48 from the field and 4 for 19 from 3-point range. But head coach Jerome Allen was most upset about his team’s defensive effort.
“Whether it was Newbill getting into the paint, Frazier getting layups or Travis getting open shots, it was our inability to execute our plan defensively that was a large reason why they almost had 50 points in the first half,” Allen said.
The Nittany Lions came out of the gates on fire, missing only six of their first 19 shots to take a 33-18 lead midway through the first half. They finished the game shooting 29 for 54 from the field and 7 for 20 from 3-point range.
“I don’t know if it was about defense,” Dougherty said. “I thought it was about heart. They hit open shots and we didn’t.”
Notes: Chambers has two older brothers who had standout athletic careers at Penn. Paul Chambers was a three-year starting point guard on Penn from 1989-92 and played one season alongside Penn head coach Jerome Allen. Another brother, Tim Chambers, was the 1984 Ivy League Player of the Year as a defensive back on a Penn football team that won three straight conference titles. . Penn is 47-50 all-time against teams from the Big Ten. The Quakers’ next game will also be against a Big Ten opponent as they travel to Iowa on Friday. . Penn State has won eight of its last nine games against Penn, dating back to 1995.
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