State College, Pa. – Defending NIT champion Penn State (7-6) broke open a tight game with a late first half run and defeated visiting UMBC (7-7), 74-52, before over 9,000 fans at Bryce Jordan Center.
Retriever graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) led the Retrievers with 16 points.
There were 10 lead changes and four ties in the first 14 minutes of play, but Penn State's Myles Dread knocked down a trey with 5:32 ro play in the half to trigger a critical Lion surge. PSU scored eight straight points and outscored the Retrievers, 17-4 to take a 40-27 lead into the locker rooms.
UMBC freshman guard Jose Placer (Orlando, Fla.) hit all four shots from the floor in nine minutes and shared first-half scoring honors with Sherburne at nine points each.
But PSU hjt 14-of-24 shots from the floor and 5-of-10 from long range in the first 20 minutes, while UMBC misfired on six of its final eight field goal attempts of the half.
Despite tightening up on defense in the second half, holding PSU to 42.3 percent shooting, the Retrievers could not get the deficit under 11 points in the final 16 minutes of play.
UMBC only attempted four free throws, compared to 20 for the hosts, until 3:15 remained in the game.
In his third game of the season, UMBC sophomore forward Daniel Akin (London, England) tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds.
PSU freshman guard Rasir Bolton led all scorers with 18 points, while junior forward Lamar Stevens added 16.
The Lions entered game shooting 32.2 percent from three, but knocked down 10-of-21 shots for the game.
UMBC concludes the 2018 portion of the schedule on Monday, Dec. 31, when they host Centenary (N.J.) at UMBC Event Center. Tip-time is slated for 1:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+, with Gary Stein, John Feinstein and Paul Mittermeier on the call. Tickets are available at https://bit.ly/2EV4Vyr.