All the good things Penn State achieved in its season opener were undone by an ugly road performance.
And now the Nittany Lions (1-1) will try it again Thursday night, attempting to rebound under new coach Micah Shrewsberry when they host St. Francis of Brooklyn in University Park, Pa.
Penn State opened the season by pulling away for a 75-59 victory over Youngstown State on Nov. 10, but in their first road game under Shrewsberry the Lions absorbed an 81-56 setback at Massachusetts on Monday night when they allowed 48.1 percent shooting.
Most significantly, they were outscored at the beginning of the second half, 20-4, and never recovered.
“I didn’t think we brought it at the energy level we needed to guard these guys,” Shrewsberry said. “That’s on me. These guys got beat by 20 in their last game. If we don’t know that they’re gonna come out with a little bit more fire, that’s on me to have these guys better prepared and better able to function.
“Our defense has to be our backbone. … That’s something we have to work on. We have to lean on that in tough times. We have to get stronger defensively and not weaker.”
The Nittany Lions struggled in numerous categories on offense as they shot 37 percent from the field, missed 11 of 15 3-point tries and committed 15 turnovers. In their season opener, they shot 51.7 percent and only committed 10 turnovers.
Penn State is looking for more from leading scorer Seth Lundy, who scored just 14 points against Massachusetts after pouring in 23 against Youngstown State. Sam Sessoms added 12 after getting 17 in the season opener and John Harrar totaled eight points and 12 rebounds after getting a double-double in the season opener.
St. Francis (0-2) is facing its second Big Ten opponent in a little over a week. The Terriers opened the season by shooting 39.7 percent in an 81-58 loss at Wisconsin on Nov. 9 and followed that with a 91-73 loss to Division I newcomer St. Thomas of Minnesota when it allowed 55.7 percent shooting.
Michael Cubbage scored 20 points and is the leading scorer for St. Francis at 15 points per game.
Thursday is the first meeting between the teams.
–Field Level Media