Penn State will live to play another day in the postseason.
The Nittany Lions (16-17) defeated Hampton, 69-65, in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational at the Bryce Jordan Center on Wednesday night to advance.
Guard D.J Newbill and forward Brandon Taylor led the way for the Lions with 14 points apiece.
Coach Patrick Chambers used the game to give his reserves and young players some run. He inserted redshirt sophomore John Johnson into the starting lineup for the first time as well as sophomore Jordan Dickerson, who made only his sixth starting appearance.
With bench players prominently featured in the lineup, Hampton made a run to start the second half to come back from an eight-point halftime deficit. Turnovers and foul trouble stalled the Lions’ productivity. A slam by Breon Key at the 11:17 mark gave Hampton its first and only lead of the game.
With Hampton’s momentum building, Chambers sent Newbill into the game who helped to spark a 14-2 run. The redshirt junior capped off the run with an electrifying fastbreak dunk that gave Penn State a 55-45 lead. The Lions stayed ahead the rest of the way.
The Lions will travel to Loudonville, N.Y. to face Siena in the second round on Monday. The Saints advanced with a 66-55 victory against Stony Brook on Tuesday.