STATE COLLEGE – Playing for the first time in eight days prompted Penn State coach Patrick Chambers to set one goal Sunday: Play harder than New Hampshire.
“I think we did that,” Chambers said after Penn State limited New Hampshire to 22.6 percent shooting (12 of 53) during a 72-45 victory.
Jermaine Marshall scored 15 points and Sasa Borovnjak 11 for Penn State (7-4), which used a 32-5 first-half run to open a commanding 34-8 lead against the Wildcats (4-7).
“We were just so ready to play,” Chambers said. “We wanted to go out and play harder than them. I hope we played that much better.”
Brandon Taylor and D.J. Newbill added 10 each for the Nittany Lions, who have won three straight games and are 6-1 at home.
New Hampshire, of the America East Conference, shot just 17.9 percent (5 of 28) in the first half, enabling Penn State to open a 39-14 halftime lead with a 16-for-29 (55.2 percent) first-half field goal performance.
“The energy and effort were there,” Chambers said. “We were dialed in for 40 minutes.”
Penn State continued to widen its lead in the second half as Marshall scored eight points and New Hampshire was unable to come back with 28 percent second-half shooting (7 of 25). Marshall finished with a career-high five steals.
“The past couple of days we were working on our defensive foundation, our defensive gaps, and our defense really stepped up,” Marshall said.
“They continued to play hard and we were still able to do what we do, and I think we did a pretty good job.”
Penn State surpassed 70 points for the third straight game and shot 46.3 percent (25 of 54) overall.
“We need to create turnovers and get some run-outs and easy baskets,” Chambers said. “Points in the Big Ten are going to be tough to come by, so it was good to get some steals.”
The Nittany Lions’ lead reached 52-26 on a jumper by Ross Travis after Donovon Jack blocked a shot by New Hampshire’s Chandler Rhoads. Penn State extended the margin to 64-32 as nine of the team’s 12 players scored at least three points.
“I thought today was the best job we’ve ever done,” Chambers said. “Our bench was awesome. We began to listen to each other, and that builds trust. And that’s why our defensive rotations were so good.”
New Hampshire was led by Ferg Myrick and Scott Morris with nine points each.
Travis, usually a starter for the Nittany Lions, sprained a knee in practice Thursday but was able to play with a brace. He came off the bench and scored four points and had six rebounds in 21 minutes.