Penn State rallies past Akron behind Newbill’s 26 points
UNIVERSITY PARK — D.J. Newbill scored 26 points, Penn State outscored Akron by 19 points in the second half and the Nittany Lions defeated the Zips, 78-72, Tuesday night.
Brandon Taylor was 4 of 11 from 3-point range and added 14 for the Lions, who trailed 45-32 at the half. Shaler product Geno Thorpe scored 10 points.
Penn State (5-1) opened the second half by holding Akron (3-2) scoreless for 6:19 and built a 47-45 lead off a 15-0 run.
Deji Ibitayo scored 17 points and Noah Robotham 16 for the Zips, but Akron’s second-half shooting woes opened the door for the Nittany Lions.
The Zips, who shot 58.6 percent from the field in the first half, went 6 of 29 in the second half. Penn State was 14 of 22.
The Zips trailed 72-65 before Robotham and Ibitayo closed the gap to 73-70.
Penn State inbounded the ball with 16 seconds remaining leading 74-72 when Newbill went to the line and extended the lead to four.
Taylor blocked a shot and John Johnson picked up the ball and raced the length of the court to set the final six-point margin.
The game was the fourth in six days for each team. The Zips placed third in the Charleston Classic while Penn State placed fifth; they did not face each other there.
The Zips, who had forced 60 turnovers and scored 72 points off them in four games, upped those totals to 67 and 83 in the first half alone while building their 13-point advantage.
But Penn State took advantage of the Zips’ 0-for-9 cold spell. Thorpe scored six and Taylor sank back-to-back 3-pointers to give Penn State its first lead.
Robotham helped the Zips recover with a 3-pointer and a layup, and Ibitayo’s two free throws gave Akron a 52-48 lead.
But the Zips committed eight fouls in the opening 9 minutes of the second half, and Newbill and Donovon Jack each made to foul shots to tie it at 52-52.
Both teams went cold for about 90 seconds but a Newbill bucket, a fast break by Johnson off a Jack steal, and Jack’s slam off an assist from Newbill put the Lions back up, 58-54, at the 8:26 mark.
A Ross Travis layup and a long-range 3 from Newbill extended Penn State’s lead to 63-57.
Ibitayo and Robotham delivered from the foul line to pull within 64-62 but a nifty crossover dribble by Newbill resulted in an easy layup and Johnson did the same on a fast break to stake Penn State to a 70-62 lead with just under 3 minutes left.
Akron jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the game. Ibitayo, Pat Forsythe and Nyles Evans each sank baskets from under the rim as the Zips held Penn State to one point over a 3-minute span and broke out to a 32-18 advantage.