UNIVERSITY PARK - It was Military Appreciation Day when Penn State faced Marshall at the Jordan Center Saturday. Apparently the Bumbling ... er ... Thundering Herd did not get the message.
Marshall offered little in the way of defense, allowing the Nittany Lions to score practically at will in a 90-77 victory that was not nearly as close as the final score indicated. Penn State improved to 7-3 on the season, as all five Lion starters reached double figures.
The Herd, who rank 305th in the nation in scoring defense in the latest NCAA statistics (79.7 ppg), fell to 4-5.
"Defensively, we were really poor today," Marshall coach Tom Herrion said. "You're not going to win many games anywhere giving up 90."
It could have been even worse, as PSU coach Pat Chambers cleared his bench late. That allowed the Herd, who were still playing mostly regulars, to cut a 25-point deficit to 13 in the final four minutes.
"I would take the last five minutes out," Chambers said. "I thought we did a phenomenal job against their length and athleticism and skill."
Though long and athletic and skilled, Marshall showed little interest in playing defense, and the Lions were more than happy to take advantage. In the first half, PSU: raced out to an 11-1 lead; made 14 of 24 2-pointers; dunked five times; and led by as many as 20 points.
"They weren't getting back," said PSU forward Ross Travis, who scored eight of his team-high 20 points on dunks. "So one of the game plans was to push the ball as fast as we could up the floor."
Just as importantly, State was not lulled into playing poor defense itself. The Lions blocked eight shots in the first half and held the Herd to 29.7 percent from the field through 20 minutes. PSU's 10 blocks in the game were only two off the school record, and sophomore Donovan Jack led the way with a personal-best seven.
"We always stress defense," Jack said. "Defense starts everything."
Indeed, PSU held Marshall to three points in the first five minutes of the second half, which was when the game got out of hand. A Travis stuff off of one of Tim Frazier's game-high nine assists made it 58-37 at the 15:57 mark. The margin grew as wide as 27 (70-43).
Unlike in the loss at Pitt earlier in the week, when Frazier and Newbill were the only two Lions who really showed up, this was a balanced effort. Travis had 20 points and six boards. Jack had 17 points, seven rebounds and the seven blocks. Forward Brandon Taylor had 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks.
Newbill had 17 points and seven rebounds. And Frazier? He was content to run the whole show, taking only nine shots (and making five) to finish with 11 points, nine assists, four steals and four caroms.
"We ran into a buzzsaw," Herrion said, adding Penn State was the first team to "really carve us up" when the Herd were trying to press.
Marshall freshman guard Kareem Canty had 28 to lead all scorers, but nine came in the final four minutes. Veteran forward Elijah Pittman, who came in averaging 22.9 per game, was held to 10 on 4-of-13 shooting. He was 1 of 5 from the arc and 1 of 6 from the line.
Game notes: Penn State scored 48 points in the paint to Marshall's 30. The Lions also had 19 second-chance points to the Herd's nine. ... Marshall had 12 offensive rebounds in the first half. After a talking-to from Chambers on the subject at the break, PSU only allowed three in the second half. ... Penn State is at Duquesne Wednesday (7 p.m. tip) before returning to Rec Hall to face Princeton next Saturday (2 p.m. tip).
MARSHALL (4-5): Canty 10-19 3-5 28, Thomas 2-9 2-5 6, Sane 1-4 2-2 4, Goard 2-4 5-8 9, Pittman 4-13 1-6 10, Smith 3-9 2-2 10, Boykins 2-3 1-2 5, Manning 2-4 0-0 5, Mbao 0-0 0-0 0, Loop 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 26-66 16-30 77.
PENN ST. (7-3): Newbill 6-13 3-4 17, Jack 8-12 1-2 18, Taylor 4-10 0-0 10, Frazier 5-9 0-0 11, Travis 5-9 9-11 20, Woodward 0-2 0-0 0, Roberts 2-7 2-2 6, Thorpe 2-5 2-2 6, Montminy 0-0 0-0 0, Wisniewski 1-1 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-68 17-21 90.
Halftime-Penn St. 47-32. 3-Point Goals-Marshall 9-20 (Canty 5-8, Smith 2-2, Manning 1-1, Pittman 1-5, Loop 0-1, Thomas 0-3), Penn St. 7-24 (Newbill 2-4, Taylor 2-7, Frazier 1-1, Jack 1-2, Travis 1-3, Thorpe 0-1, Woodward 0-2, Roberts 0-4). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-Marshall 40 (Sane 8), Penn St. 47 (Jack, Newbill 7). Assists-Marshall 11 (Canty 5), Penn St. 20 (Frazier 9). Total Fouls-Marshall 13, Penn St. 19. A-5,633.