STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — D.J. Newbill bounced back from a quiet first half to lead Penn State to a 61-58 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday night in the ACC/ Big Ten Challenge.
Newbill, the nation’s third-leading scorer, was held to just five points on 1-of-5 shooting in the first half. The senior guard added 13 points after halftime, including eight during a 14-0 Penn State run midway through the second half.
Virginia Tech led 42-34 following a 3-pointer by guard Justin Bibbs with 11:39 to play. The Nittany Lions (7-1), who scored just two points in the half to that point, responded.
Center Jordan Dickerson jammed home an offensive rebound, and guard John Johnson scored on a three-point play to make it 42-39 with 10:30 left. Newbill split a double-team and hit a layup on the next possession, then sank a fallaway floater to put his team up by one.
Newbill missed two free throws in the final seconds, though, with his team up 61-58. Virginia Tech guard Ahmed Hill had a decent look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it sailed long.
Guard Shep Garner had 13 points for the Nittany Lions, who won despite shooting just 37 percent. Penn State forward Ross Travis had six points and 10 rebounds, including six offensive boards in the second half.
Forward Joey Van Zegeren had 18 points and 10 rebounds for Virginia Tech (4-3), while Bibbs scored 16 points, hitting three 3-pointers. The Hokies connected on just four of 14 3-point tries on the evening, while Penn State hit just four of 24.
Penn State overcame a turnover-filled start to lead 30-27 at halftime.
The Hokies was in front by seven points midway through the first half, with the Nittany Lions amassing as many turnovers (seven) as field-goal attempts to that point. Penn State battled back, though, to take the lead near the end of the half on two heads-up plays by Garner.
Penn State forward Payton Banks missed the front end of a one-and-one with 2:47 left, but the only player from either team to react to the rebound was Garner, who put in a layup to cut Virginia Tech’s lead to 27-26.
Garner, who finished the half with nine points, went around a ball screen and made a driving layup on the next possession to give Penn State a one-point lead. Newbill’s layup with three seconds left gave the Nittany Lions their largest lead of the half right before the buzzer.
Van Zegeren had 14 first-half points for the Hokies, who committed just one turnover before the break. The Nittany Lions finished the half with eight turnovers, but only one over the final 10 minutes.
NOTES: Virginia Tech entered the game fourth in the nation in 3-point percentage (.455) but made just four of 14 tries from the arc. … Penn State G D.J. Newbill began the night averaging 25 points, third best in the nation. … Virginia Tech was 0-of-8 from the free-throw line in the opening half, 4-for-14 in the game. The team is shooting 83-for-143 (.580) at the line on the season.
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