After Penn State's 1-21 performance from three-point territory on Tuesday against St. Joseph's, it's hard to blame Fairfield coach Ed Cooley for forcing the Nittany Lions to shoot his team out of its 2-3 zone to win.
Nevertheless, the Lions made Cooley and his Stags pay big time as they hit 9-22 three-pointers on route to a 64-49 win at the Bryce Jordan Center Friday night.
"We looked at their last tape, they didn't really shoot the ball well from three," Cooley said after the game. "So you've got to give them credit, making eight more threes than they did the last game. I thought that was the real key to this game."
The offensive success wasn't limited to three point territory either, though. Penn State shot 41% for the game overall and got a near double-double from center Andrew Jones who tallied eight points on the night with 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Penn State also had success in the defensive end, holding an opponent under 50 points for the first time this season after coming close twice against Lehigh and St. Joseph's. The Lions out-rebounded the Stags 41-40 and forced 16 turnovers in the victory.
Books said after the game that he believed ball containment, ball pressure, help defense and communication were all important for Penn State and he was pleased with the defensive efforts.
"I don't know what they had when the starters went out, like 39 points or something like that?" Brooks said. "Fairfield's a very talented team so for us to be able to contain them from scoring a lot of transition buckets and a lot of dribble drives, I just feel good about it."
No Stags registered double figure scoring against Penn State and as a team, Fairfield managed only 10 assists. The Stags were the preseason pick to with the MAAC heading into the season, but now sit 1-2.
DeChellis pointed to Tim Frazier's performance covering Fairfield's guards, but didn't limit his praise to the sophomore.
"Overall I think our team defense has been pretty good," DeChellis said. "We're doing a good job of stepping up and taking some charges, I think we're doing a pretty good job of rotations. I think we're doing a decent job of containing the ball."
All of those things will have to continue for Penn State when the Lions host Central Connecticut State on Monday at the BJC. The Blue Devils are 2-0 and averaging 82 points per game as a team including a 101 point performance against Army last Monday.
Overall, DeChellis is pleased with his team's play thus far but is taking a measured approach to looking at the progress.
"We've only played three games," DeChellis said. "This is a long, long year. There will be times when guys don't play well and other guys will have to step up and make some plays for us.