STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)—Danny Morrissey hated the shot so much as it left his hand that he looked away after the ball bounced high into the air off the rim.
He didn’t know until he saw teammate Talor Battle’s smiling face that the ugly shot turned into a key 3-pointer that helped Penn State hold off No. 14 Purdue down the stretch of a 67-64 victory on Tuesday night.
“Maybe the luckiest shot,” Morrissey said about the basket that put Penn State up 64-55 with 3:01 left after the Nittany Lions lost an early 15-point lead.
“I didn’t know it went in until I turned to ‘T’ and he was screaming in my face,” Morrissey said.
Battle’s 21 points paced Penn State (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten), while Morrissey added 10 off the bench.
E’Twaun Moore had 21 to lead Purdue, which lost its second straight conference game after going scoreless for an eight-minute stetch of the second half.
The Boilermakers (11-4, 0-2) played without two starters in second-leading scorer Robbie Hummel (back) and guard Chris Kramer (sprained left foot), but a Penn State team eager to make waves in the Big Ten will take the win regardless.
Coach Ed DeChellis may be finally turning around the program in his sixth season on the bench.
“I’m more proud of our kids in the second half,” DeChellis said. “We got down, was able to withstand it and came back. I think that’s a good sign.”
Stanley Pringle added 18 for Penn State, which is off to its best start in 13 seasons.
Purdue fell behind 19-4 early after going the game’s first five minutes with out a field goal but chipped away behind Moore’s hot hand.
He scored seven straight points at one point during a 16-5 second-half run capped by a Moore 3 with 10:21 left gave the Purdue a 55-51 lead.
But Purdue went cold the next eight minutes. Penn State switched to a zone before returning to the man defense that DeChellis’ players preferred to use.
Either way, Moore and the rest of the Boilermakers were rushing shots and out of rhythm.
“There were a couple possessions there were he pressed,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Moore. “He’s pressing at key times instead of letting it come to him.”
Battle’s layup with 4:43 left made it 61-55, before Morrissey’s trey took its lucky bounce into the rim to put Penn State up nine.
It was a confidence-boosting win for a Penn State team that features four sophomores among its top seven players.
Morrissey, a senior, sensed calm in his young teammates as the Nittany Lions fell behind.
“We didn’t panic,” he said. “We’ve been down this road before. We know how to win now.”
Penn State appeared to be in control early with Battle and Pringle leading the way in the backcourt and forward Jamelle Cornley and center Andrew Jones controlling the paint.
Jones had 11 rebounds, nine in the first half. The Nittany Lions outrebounded Purdue on the offensive glass, 22-6.
Purdue went the first five minutes of the game without a field goal, falling behind 17-2 after two straight 3s by Pringle. Cornley followed on Penn State’s next possession with a tough short jumper over two defenders to put the Nittany Lions up 19-4 with about 14:00 left in the first half.
Namanja Calasan had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench for pesky Purdue.
“You can’t go out there and stick your head in the sand,” Painter said about his team’s injury woes. “Our guys turned it around, took a four-point lead and then Penn State battled back.”