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Penn State picks up its first Big Ten victory of the season

From Mirror, wire reports

UNIVERSITY PARK — Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones scored 17 points apiece, Jones making three clinching free throws in the waning seconds, and Penn State held off a resurgent Rutgers 75-67 Thursday night for its first Big Ten Conference win this season.

Seth Lundy chipped in 16 points with 10 rebounds and a career-high three steals in his return to the starting lineup. Lundy had all three steals just past the midway point of the first half as Penn State (4-6, 1-5) harassed Rutgers into early turnovers to fuel a 10-0 run.

The Nittany Lions led 34-24 at the break and, when Jones opened the second half with a 3-pointer and a three-point play, were cruising with an 18-point lead by the 10:38 mark.

Rutgers came storming back with an 11-0 run in little more than 2 minutes, slicing the once-comfortable lead to as few as four points down the stretch.

“I’m really proud of this group of guys,” Penn State interim head coach Jim Ferry said. “This is a tough league; we’ve been in battles we haven’t won. We’ve lost a couple down the stretch, including a tough one at Illinois. I think our guys really showed the character that we see every single day. I thought we had unbelievable leadership from Jamari (Wheeler) and John (Harrar).”

Ron Harper Jr. scored 14 of his 18 points for Rutgers after halftime, making 5 of 10, including a pair of 3-pointers as the Scarlet Knights rallied. Myles Johnson scored 14 with seven rebounds for Rutgers (7-6, 3-6), which is in a stretch of five straight losses.

Before Thursday, Rutgers had lost four to Big Ten foes either ranked in the Top 25 or receiving votes.

Brockington hit four of his first five shots as Penn State got off to the hot start. At one point early in the second half the Nittany Lions were shooting 67% from the floor. Penn State finished at 49% (27 of 55). Early in the second half, Penn State was 4 of 7 from behind the 3-point arc but cooled to one of the next five over the last 12 or 13 minutes.

“I thought our guys really looked connected today. We really defended as a team, this was our best defensive game. We were locked in. We played disciplined, we played without fouling and we rebounded the ball…For us to come out and do it and then win, I think it shows the guys are really excited about it and buying in. I thought everyone really stepped up today,” Ferry said.

Rutgers visits Indiana on Sunday while Penn State continues its three-game homestand against Northwestern on Saturday.

Penn State, which paused 17 days last month after positive COVID-19 tests, is nearing the end of a stretch of four games in seven days.

RUTGERS (7-6): M.Johnson 7-10 0-0 14, Baker 3-6 1-2 9, Mathis 3-12 2-4 8, Young 3-8 1-1 7, Harper 7-14 2-2 18, Mulcahy 2-2 0-2 6, Omoruyi 1-3 0-0 2, McConnell 1-5 0-0 3, Palmquist 0-1 0-0 0, Mag 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 6-11 67.

PENN STATE (4-6): Harrar 4-5 0-0 8, Lundy 6-13 2-4 16, Brockington 6-15 5-8 17, M.Jones 4-10 7-9 17, Wheeler 1-3 1-2 3, Sessoms 4-6 0-0 9, Buttrick 2-3 0-1 5. Totals 27-55 15-24 75.

Halftime–Penn St. 34-24. 3-Point Goals–Rutgers 7-17 (Mulcahy 2-2, Baker 2-3, Harper 2-6, McConnell 1-1, Palmquist 0-1, Young 0-1, Mathis 0-3), Penn St. 6-19 (M.Jones 2-6, Lundy 2-7, Buttrick 1-2, Sessoms 1-2, Brockington 0-1, Wheeler 0-1). Fouled Out–Baker. Rebounds–Rutgers 26 (M.Johnson 7), Penn St. 38 (Harrar 11). Assists–Rutgers 18 (Mulcahy 5), Penn St. 16 (Wheeler 6). Total Fouls–Rutgers 18, Penn St. 11. A–209

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