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Nittany Lions take down Hampton 69-65 in CBI opener

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PSU will face Siena in the quarterfinal round Monday in Loudonville, N.Y.

Four Nittany Lions posted double figures in scoring as Penn State defeated Hampton, 69-65, in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. D.J. Newbill set the pace for the Blue and White, notching a team-high 19 points while Brandon Taylor, Tim Frazier and Geno Thorpe also reached double figures.

Taylor flirted with a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down nine boards, Frazier posted 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds and Thorpe added a career-high 10 points and five boards.

With the win, Penn State (16-17 overall) advances to the quarterfinals of the CBI Tournament where it will take on Siena in a Monday night matchup at the Times Union Center in Loudonville, N.Y.

The Nittany Lions shot 40.5 percent (17-of-42) from the field, 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from 3-point range and 75 percent (30-of-40) from the free-throw line. Penn State dominated the boards on the night, grabbing 42 rebounds while holding the Pirates to 18, the lowest for any PSU opponent this season and fewest since 2011 vs. Ohio State (17).

Brian Darden led the charge for the Pirates, dropping a career-high 22 points on 5-of-7 from the field, including four 3-pointers. Deron Powers also reached double figures, posting 19 points for HU. Hampton shot 41.3 percent (19-of-46) from the floor, 42.9 percent (6-of-14) from beyond the arc and 72.4 percent (21-of-29) from the charity stripe.

Penn State opened the contest on an 8-0 run with Frazier, Newbill and Taylor putting points on the board. Hampton put up its first points on a dunk from Jervon Pressley before Ross Travis drained two free throws to put the score at 10-2.

The Pirates cut the deficit to two points after Darden drilled two straight treys but the Lions quickly responded, as Newbill hit a pair of free throws and Taylor knocked down back-to-back three pointers to push the lead to 10 as the scoreboard read 18-8.

Hampton posted a 9-0 run to come within one of the Lions at the 9:57 mark but PSU regained momentum with a 9-1 run to put the count at 30-21 with just under four minutes remaining in the half. The Pirates added four more points but Penn State had the final word as Graham Woodward capped the first half with a trey to leave the score at 33-25 heading into the intermission.

Penn State maintained control of the game after the break until an 8-0 Hampton streak gave HU its first lead of the game at the 11:47 mark. Dwight Meikle made a pair of free throws, Powers hit a jumper, Emmanuel Okoroba laid one in and Breon Key closed out the streak with a dunk, giving HU a 43-41 advantage.

Newbill tied the game up on the next possession, draining a jumper in the paint to kick start PSU’s offense and Frazier followed with two free throws and a layup to put the Lions ahead 47-43. The Pirates managed to stay within striking distance throughout the remainder of the game but were never able to recapture the lead.

Thorpe went a perfect 4-for-4 at the line in the final 30 seconds of the game to seal the deal for the Blue and White, giving Penn State a 69-65 victory.

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