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November 9, 2012

Lions win close one to open season

A team picked dead last in one of the nation's lowliest conferences shouldn't have given Penn State so much trouble Friday night. In fact, St. Francis almost gave Penn State a loss.

Shocked to find themselves trailing the hot-shooting Red Flash midway through the second half of their home opener, the Lions rallied behind their talented backcourt and escaped with a 65-58 win. Senior guard Tim Frazier scored 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half and sophomore DJ Newbill added 16 for the Lions (1-0).

Sophomore guard Ollie Jackson scored 19 to lead St. Francis (0-1).

"We always prepare for nights like this," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said after his team survived 36 percent shooting and 17 turnovers. "We need to be able to not make shots and continue to play hard. Sometimes it's going to be ugly. If you can win those ugly ones, you're going to be in good shape. It's okay. It's a learning experience. It's Game 1."

Penn State struggled to an unconvincing 26-20 halftime lead, shooting just 29 percent for the half, including 1 of 12 from three. The Red Flash came out the hotter team in the second half, riding Jackson's hot shooting and going up 31-30 on a Kam Ritter three with 16:55 left. Frazier seemed to take the lead change as a personal challenge, hitting a jumper, snagging a steal and scoring on a three-point play all in the next 75 seconds. Frazier helped seal it down the stretch, going 12 of 12 from the line in the second half and 17 of 18 for the game. Newbill, in his first game for Penn State, hit 9 of 10 free throws, while junior guard Jermaine Marshall added 9 points and six rebounds.

The Lions are back on the court Thursday when they face North Carolina State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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