PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/19/2015 – It took Penn State a long time to get past Drexel, but finally got the lead late to escape with a 63 – 57 win at the Palestra. For Drexel it was another opportunity that got away.
“It’s been like that all season,” said Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint. “It’s like we play not to lose, not to win. We’ve been in every game. When we need to make a play we don’t do it. And that’s why we have five losses by six point or less.”
The Dragons held the lead until the 5:09 mark of the second half. In the first have the advantage grew to as many as 17 points. With 5:53 to play in the first half a Tavon Allen three-pointer gave the Dragons a 32 – 15 lead. However, Drexel went cold for over five minutes. They were held scoreless until Allen made two free throws for a 34 – 27 halftime lead.
Penn State made a second half charge as Drexel got the turnover bug. The Dragons turned the ball over on 5 of 6 possessions allowing the Nittany Lions to go on 14 – 4 run taking a 50 – 47 lead on a layup by guard Shep Garner. Penn State held the lead behind 9 straight points by forward Payton Banks to hold off Drexel who got to within a single possession three different times.
“You’ve got to be ready to make the same plays that you’ve been making all game,” Flint said. “Instead of us making passes in the zone, we were holding the ball. That was the difference. We made bad turnovers because we were tentative, and that gave them easy baskets.”
The Allens led the Dragons as Terrell scored a team-high 18 points and Tavon scored 16. As a team Drexel shot 16 of 53 (30.2%).
Payton Banks scored a game-high 20 points, a new career mark, and added 6 rebounds. Brandon Taylor and Philadelphia native Shep Garner scored 11 points for Penn State who made 39% from the field (23 of 59).
“We never thought we were going to lose that game,” said Banks. “You have to will yourself to win.”
The Nittany Lions improve to 8 – 3 on the season and have won six of their last seven games.
“I’m proud of our guys, they were resilient, gave great effort, and it was one of those wins where it was ugly, but we’ll take it,” said Penn State Coach Pat Chambers.
PSU travels to Las Vegas for two games in the Classic opening against Colorado.
The Dragons fall to 1 – 8 on the season. They’ll get back in action at the DAC on Tuesday with a Battle of 33rd Street game against Penn.
Written By: Glenn Papazian
Notes: Payton Banks’ sister Jourdan Bank played at Penn from 2008 – 1012.
“This was my sisters’ alma mater, so I thought it was cool to play here,” said Banks.
He did not get any advice from Jourdan about playing in the Palestra.
“She let me fly blind, but we have a different style of play.”