UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Murphy Burnatowski scored 20 points and nailed three of four free throws in the final minute to secure a 74-64 men’s basketball victory for the Maine Black Bears over the Penn State Nittany Lions Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Burnatowski hit six of eight shots from the field, including five of seven from 3-point range, to help the Bears improve to 6-5 heading into their Christmas break while Penn State slipped to 7-4.
Burnatwoski’s effort was part of a strong shooting night for the Bears as they shot 52 percent from the field (20-for-38) while holding Penn State to a 38 percent performance (22-57). Maine complemented the strong defensive effort with a solid rebounding game, a 35-27 rebounding advantage.
Maine coach Ted Woodward was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“We’re in a good rhythm right now. The guys did a good job from start to finish. We have a lot of guys contributing and we did a good job of keeping guys fresh. I think we wore them down a little bit,” he said.
“We’ve been emphasizing defense and rebounding. That’s been a constant for us and we’ll continue to work on them,” Woodward added.
Terrance Mitchell chipped in with 17 points for the Bears and Troy Barnies added 10 while Raheem Singleton notched six assists.
Maine closed the first half with a 9-4 surge to take a 31-24 lead paced by Burnatowski’s 14 first-half points and Mitchell’s five.
The Bears expanded their lead to 10 early in the second half but the Nittany Lions closed it to 40-35 before the Bears responded with two Mitchell 3-pointers and an Alasdair Fraser free throw to take a 47-37 advantage with 11:25 left.
Maine increased its lead to 62-47 with six minutes remaining before the Nittany Lions closed the gap to 63-56 with 3:23 left. Maine then scored five unanswered points on a free throw each by Mitchell and Fraser sandwiched around a Burnatowski 3-pointer that gave the Bears a 68-56 lead with 1:39 left.
“You know that teams are going to make a run at you especially when they’re a Big 10 team playing on their home court,” Woodward said. “We did a good job of answering their run. We had different guys helping each other out on both ends of the court.”
The Bears secured the victory from the free-throw line as they converted 6 of 8 free throws in the final minute as Singleton made one, Barnies hit two of two and Burnatwoski three of four.
Woodward was confident in his players ability to make the clutch free throws in the final minute.
“Burnatowski’s very good, Singleton’s very good. We had a number of guys on the floor who we were confident in going to the free throw line,” he said.
Taylor Battle paced Penn State with 26 points and David Jackson added 18.
Maine next plays a final non-conference game against Columbia on Thursday, Dec. 30, before beginning their America East schedule.
“I’m sure the guys are very pleased and satisfied with a win in a big-time building, but the way we’ve been playing is as pleasing as the result,” Woodward said. “We’ve been consistent on both ends of the court.”