UNIVERSITY PARK - Losing top players to season-ending injuries is a chronic problem for Penn State basketball.
Geary Claxton, Jarrett Stephens, Dan Earl, and Matt Gaudio going down for the year all either scuttled promising seasons or ruined presentable ones in the Big Ten era. Coaches come and go but the condition is never cured as the Nittany Lions have tried to build a consistent winner.
So consider Tim Frazier's season-ending Achilles surgery this past week second-year coach Pat Chambers' introduction to the affliction.
AP photo/Centre Daily Times, ABBY?DREY
Boston College's KC Caudill, right, defends a layup by Penn State's Ross Travis during their game Wednesday in University Park. The Nittany Lions fell to the Eagles 73-61.
Frazier's absence as a scorer and point guard were on display Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center, as the Nittany Lions fell 73-61 to Boston College in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
New guard D.J. Newbill, the Philadelphia native and Southern Miss transfer who hoped to team with Frazier in the backcourt, has helped with the scoring but struggled with the distributing. He finished with a career-high 22 points, but committed 6 first-half turnovers and fouled out late.
Jermaine Marshall led the Lions with 25 points, two off his career high. But Penn State was credited with just 6 assists on the night.
Boston College didn't shoot well either, missing plenty of open jump shots, but limited the turnovers and made enough key baskets to stay ahead. One such stretch were consecutive 3-pointers by Lonnie Jackson and Joe Rahon to open a 45-33 lead with 12:34 to go. Eddie Odio set up Rahon's 3-pointer by pulling an offensive rebound scrambling for his own missed dunk before Jackson scored on the next possession.
The Eagles (3-5) shot the same as Penn State in the first half, but were 8-for-17 from the floor to start the second half. They also held Penn State without a field goal for 10 minutes across the middle of the second half.
But the Nittany Lions (3-3) showed much of the same gritty attitude from Chambers' first year when they cut into a double-digit deficit. Marshall started the charge with a 3-point play in the paint and then 3 free throws on the next possession before a Newbill steal and layup cut Boston College's lead to 59-53.
Another Marshall 3-pointer and Newbill free throw pulled Penn State within 60-57, and a Marshall layup the next possession kept the deficit to 3 points, but that was as close as it got. Andrew Van Nest made a backdoor cut on the next possession for BC, preventing any game-tying shot.
Olivier Hanlan led BC with 22 points.
Penn State had the hustle in the first half, but less luck scoring, especially in the frontcourt as starters Brandon Taylor and Jon Graham had two fouls in a scoreless first half. Another example was down 20-12 in the first half when third forward Ross Travis missed a wide-open layup from Newbill, only to have Penn State retain possession after a block against KC Caudill. But Newbill threw the ball away in a hurry toward the paint.
However, Travis responded on the next possession with a turnaround jumper from the foul line and a putback two possessions later.
The Nittany Lions' first game without Frazier, last Friday's 60-57 victory over Patriot League contender Bucknell, was actually the teams' best shooting game of the season at 38.6 percent, though that came after a 44-point second half shooting 60 percent.
Penn State might have hoped for at least that much Wednesday against a team picked last in the ACC preseason poll coming off a home loss to Bryant, but it was not to be. The Nittany Lions will hope for more Saturday afternoon vs. Penn.