Nov. 27, 2004
STATE COLLEGE, PA - Junior forward Aaron Johnson scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to lead the Penn State men's basketball team to a 69-61 lead over Sacred Heart University in a non-conference game Saturday afternoon.
Penn State put the Pioneers in a quick 6-0 hole when freshmen Mike Walker and Geary Claxton (New Haven, CT) buried a pair of threes in the first minute. Freshman Ryon Howard gave the Pioneers their first lead of the game at 10-8 with a three-pointer with 14:52 to play in the half.
The Nittany Lions took advantage of some cold Pioneers shooting to go on an 8-0 run and take a 16-10 lead. They would extend that lead to 25-18 after a pair of free throws by Danny Morrissey with 6:12 left in the half. Sacred Heart took advantage of offensive misfires by Penn State to crawl back into the game and a Joey Henley layup had the Pioneers within one at 25-24 with 4:04 remaining.
The Nittany Lions led 29-26 with 1:26 left after a layup by Johnson, but a bucket by Jarrid Frye with :58 left cut the lead to one. After a Walker turnover for Penn State a layup by Henley with :03 left gave the Pioneers a 30-29 lead at the intermission.
Both teams shot poorly from the field in the half, Sacred Heart shooting 31 percent (12-39), while the Nittany Lions shot just 25 percent (10-40).
Penn State, 3-2, ran off the first eight points of the second half to take a 37-29 lead as the Pioneers, who made just two turnovers in the first half, committed five in the first three minutes of the second. Sacred Heart would run off eight straight of its own, capped by a Joey Henley layup, to tie the game at 37-37 with 15:55 left.
The Nittany Lions retook the lead on a Walker three and then went on a 20-7 run to extend its lead to 57-44. The Pioneers weren't quite dead yet and a Henley layup with 2:22 left had SHU back within five at 61-56. Johnson was fouled at the other end for Penn State and made one of two to give his team a six-point bulge. Henley missed a foul-line jumper for the Pioneers with 1:35 left and Penn State's Marlon Smith was fouled by Drew Shubik with 1:28 left. Smith canned both tries, sealing the Pioneers' fate.
Henley led the Pioneers with 14 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Luke Granato (Rocky Hill, CT) added 11 points, as did Howard.
Walker finished with 15 for the Nittany Lions, while Smith and Morrissey added 11 apiece.