PITTSBURGH (AP) — Allen Roberts and Tim Frazier are proving they can play whatever role each is needed in to make Penn State be successful.
Roberts had 15 points off the bench, Tim Frazier had a career-high 13 assists along with 11 points and the Nittany Lions won for the sixth time in its past eight games, 68-59 against Duquesne on Wednesday night.
D.J. Newbill added 13 points for Penn State (8-3), which won despite having only 10 free-throw attempts as compared to the Dukes’ 34.
Frazier, an all-Big Ten point guard, was held well below the 18.6-point average he entered the game with. Roberts was the leading scorer for Miami (Ohio) last season but had scored in double digits just once before leading the Lions in scoring for the first time on Wednesday.
“I’m enjoying my role now,” Roberts said. “It’s just its so much different than my role last year, when I had a lot on my shoulders and. I had to do the majority of the work. When you do that and put all the effort in and don’t come out victorious, it feels pointless.
But with this team, it’s just such a solid unit.”
Frazier and Newbill are among the nation’s most experienced backcourt starting mates. Penn State forward Donovon Jack added nine points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Ovie Soko had 19 points to lead the Dukes (3-4), who shot 27 percent from the field and made just four of 23 attempts from 3-point range.
Soko, who made 12 of 14 free throws, played just 22 minutes before fouling out.
Duquesne has lost four of its past six and fell to the Nittany Lions for the second consecutive season.
The game wasn’t played on Duquesne’s campus but at Consol Energy Center, the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team. Dukes coach Jim Ferry indicated the change in venue affected his team’s shooting.
Duquesne regularly plays a handful of home games at the arena, which sits a block from its on-campus home arena, the A.J. Palumbo Center.
“If we play this game at Palumbo, I think it’s a little different story,” Ferry said. “Five-thousand people in there, it’s rocking. But I wouldn’t trade it. It’s great for us to play here, it helps with recruiting. We’ve just got to make shots.”
Playing its second game in the city of Pittsburgh over a nine-day span, Penn State fared better than it did in a nine-point loss at Pitt on Dec. 3. Counting a 90-77 win over Marshall in between, the Lions have combined to hold their past three opponents to 27.8 percent first-half field goal shooting.
Unlike they did against Pitt (which shot 58.5 percent in the second half), however, Penn State continued to stifle the Dukes through the final buzzer. Other than a stretch of about seven minutes midway through the second half, Duquesne’s shooting was cold from all over the court.
“That’s what we want our identity to be – defending and rebounding,” Frazier said. “Just in case our shots aren’t falling – sometimes they’re not going to fall – but as long as we get rebounding and defense, we will be successful. A lot of times you get a stop, and that leads to rebounds and easy buckets.”
That happened numerous times against Duquesne, which had its worst shooting day in the two-year tenure of Ferry. The Dukes entered shooting 47.2 percent for the season.
Only one Dukes player – junior forward Dominique McKoy – made more shots than he missed. McKoy finished with 12 points on five of six shooting. Jeremiah Jones also had 12 points for Duquesne.
Penn State began the second half on an 8-2 run to open up a 15-point lead. The Dukes answered by scoring 14 of the next 18 points of the game to pull within five – but that would be the closest the Dukes would get.
Minutes later, Duquesne was within 50-44 after a pair of free throws by Soko with 8:40 left. But Penn State answered with an 8-0 run that all but put the game away. They led by as many as 19 in the second half.
Duquesne shot 25 percent from the field – including two of 12 from 3-point range – in the first half. The Dukes also missed seven of 17 free throw attempts.
Jack, a former verbal commitment to Duquesne who switched to Penn State after the Dukes fired former coach Ron Everhart, had a career-high 11 rebounds. He has combined for 13 blocks over the past two games.
Through the first 37 minutes of the game, Penn State went to the foul line just six times. Duquesne had nearly six times that many free throw attempts.
“That’s just Coach Ferry style of basketball with how aggressive he is,” Soko said. “He encourages us to aggressive, so we’re going to get fouled. But I feel like that bit us from behind this time; we were so aggressive, we took some bad shots, which led to easy (Penn State) points.”