STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Patrick Chambers sensed it at halftime. His team didn’t need a stern talking to and Penn State players certainly didn’t need to hear their coach yell and scream.
So Chambers left them alone to calmly contemplate their 10-point deficit to Yale after their worst first-half output in 24 games dating to last season.
“It’s no time for me to overreact,” Chambers said. “The basket looked like a golf hole. It would only look even smaller if I went crazy.”
Instead, the hoop seemed to get bigger, especially for Myles Dread who hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute to go to keep Penn State unbeaten with a 58-56 win over the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Dread finished with 13 points while Izaiah Brockington scored 15 for the Nittany Lions (5-0) in a game Penn State trailed for all but 56 seconds and by as many as 16 with 9:12 to play.
Penn State made just 9 of its first 33 field goals including one of 13 3-pointers and trailed 31-21 at halftime.
“I thought our kids played really well for about 36 minutes of the game,” Yale coach James Jones said. “We folded down the stretch and had some turnovers and missed opportunities that could’ve won the game.”
Yale’s Matthue Cotton took what would’ve been a game-winning 3-pointer with about three seconds left, but the ball bounced off the rim and the Nittany Lions grabbed the rebound to complete the comeback.
Lamar Stevens added 13 points and 13 rebounds for Penn State including four straight baskets with five minutes left to fuel his team's late run.
With just over a minute left, Stevens blocked an Azar Swain layup and fired an outlet pass to Dread to set up the winning 3-pointer.
“I thought we sped them up,” Chambers said. “We forced them into difficult shots. Lamar’s block was monstrous. The game could be in overtime right now.”
Swain led Yale (3-3) with 24 points while Paul Atkinson scored 12.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-0 lead and maintained the advantage for the entire first half. Swain drained his fourth basket of the half to put Yale up by 12 with 5:03 before halftime.
Jones could only sigh as he looked at the stats after the game. One jumped out at him, his team’s dreadful performance from the free throw line where the Bulldogs made just three of 11.
“If we go 6-for-11, which is terrible, we win the game,” Jones said.
Before Penn State started to heat up, Swain kept Penn State’s offense at a relatively safe distance.
The guard, who did most of his damage off the bench last year, has become one of Yale’s most reliable players this season. Now, Jones is asking more and more from him each week.
He notched a career-best 25 points in the team’s triple-overtime win over Siena and followed it up with another strong performance. He made 9-of-18 shots with six 3-pointers and chipped in five rebounds and two assists.
THE BIG PICTURE
Yale: The Bulldogs have been the class of their league for awhile with more wins (103) and Ivy League titles (3) in the past six seasons than any other Ivy League team. They controlled play from the opening tip and shut down Penn State’s high-powered offense for most of the afternoon until the very end.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions overcame their worst first half of the season but their shooters will need to be better moving forward if they want to keep rising as the schedule remains tough.
Yale hosts Western Michigan on Monday.
Penn State plays Mississippi in New York City on Wednesday.
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