STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Tim Frazier scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and Penn State defeated St. Francis (Pa.) 65-58 on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
D.J. Newbill, a transfer from Southern Mississippi, added 16 points for the Nittany Lions.In the first half, the teams combined to shoot 31 percent (14 of 45) from the field, including 18 percent (4 of 22) from 3-point range. Penn State struggled behind the arc all night, finishing 3 of 24 from 3-point range.Ollie Jackson tallied 19 points for the Red Flash, picked to finish last in the Northeastern Conference preseason poll.Down 26-20 at the break, St. Francis opened the second half on an 11-4 run. Penn State took the lead for good when Frazier hit a pair of free throws with 10:45 remaining.St. Francis recorded only two offensive rebounds.Second-year coach Patrick Chambers has insisted several times that Penn State has the best backcourt in the country.Frazier and Newbill showed glimpses of promise to back up their coach's bold claim, with a Newbill to Frazier alley-oop three minutes in bringing the 7,329 spectators at the Bryce Jordan Center to their feet."Those are two really good guards," first-year St. Francis coach Rob Krimmel said. "Two of the best players we'll see all year."Frazier is the Big Ten's top returning scorer (18.8) and assist (6.2) man. The Lions won four conference games last season, but return 70 percent of their scoring, most from Frazier.The senior played 39 minutes on Friday. He made 17 of 18 free throws, a career-high."I don't want to rely on that every night," Chambers said. "That's a lot of weight on one man's shoulders. And he's only 22."Besides Jackson, most of St. Francis' production came from the bench. Red Flash reserves scored 22 points.The biggest troubles for St. Francis came in the paint. The Red Flash were outrebounded 38-29 and scored zero second-chance points."We knew coming into a place like this that our margin for error wouldn't be very big," Krimmel said.St. Francis scored only two points over a seven-minute stretch late in the second half.Chambers was troubled by his team's 3-point shooting, but even more troubled by the Lions' 17 turnovers.