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November 28, 2012Penn State men's basketball head coach Patrick Chambers was confronted by conflicting emotions following Wednesday's night's 73-61 loss to Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
On the one hand, his Nittany Lions looked sloppy and disinterested in a first half that saw them fall behind 31-24, void of any and all effort save for D.J. Newbill's 12 points, and plagued by 10 turnovers while being out rebounded 18-14.
Alternately, however, Chambers witnessed his downtrodden, hard luck team playing without its senior leader, Tim Frazier, fight back from a 20-point deficit to make it a one possession game with just over 3 minutes left to play.
"We push them, we drive them. I was disappointed with the first twenty minutes," Chambers said. "But that last twenty minutes showed me something. That's what I'm going to take away from this game.
"It wasn't pretty. D.J. and Jermaine need help. They can't do it on their own. Boston College, they played harder, and that's going to be a very good team come January. They're young, but they have very good players."
The best on the evening for the Golden Eagles was guard Hanlan Olivier, who hit 15 of 19 free throws en route to a team-high 22 points in 34 minutes of action.
Though Hanlon may have been the toughest to defend on the evening, the Nittany Lions' biggest obstructions were often themselves.
True freshman forward Brandon Taylor got into foul trouble early and was ineffective, scoring just 3 points in 23 minutes of action along with Jon Graham's 3 points and a combined 5 rebounds.
Meanwhile, until a late surge, the Nittany Lions continued to struggle shooting the ball, falling behind by as many as 20 points at the 5:22 mark in the second half.
"We need to play gritty for forty minutes, and if you only do it for thirty, you see the result," Chambers said. "We have to get stops and we have to communicate. Our talking I thought was not as good as it's been the past few days in practice."
Passionately pleading with his players to find their emotion and energy at seemingly every turn, Chambers saw his team rally from that point forward.
Starting with a Jermaine Marshall 3-pointer, the Nittany Lions reeled off 14 consecutive points over the next 1 minute, 12 seconds, aided by a strong full-court press and a 100 percent shooting clip for both Newbill and Marshall in the same span. Marshall finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with Newbill's 22 as the pair sent home nearly 30 percent of their combined points in that stretch alone.
Asked what prompted the turnaround, Marshall said the solution was simple.
"Just play harder. We were down big. We rallied together and looked at the scoreboard," he said. "We played hard and we were able to cut the lead to a two possession game.
"Unfortunately, some calls went their way. They played well though. They made their free throws and did everything they had to do."
According to Boston College coach Steve Donahue, simply withstanding the late flurry by the Nittany Lions was something he left the game feeling extremely proud about.
"For us, obviously coming off a really tough loss and watching how hard they play, with the loss of Frazier, I give those kids so much credit," he said. "There's not a team that plays harder than they do in the country. I thought for our young team to respond to that, I was real proud.
"Not pretty at times, for sure, but I think both of us are building a program and you're not going to get pretty all the time."
Despite the strong comeback effort, the momentum was lost as Olivier scored 9 points in the game's final 3:51 as the Nittany Lions' offense stalled.
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