For the second time in the first three games this season, the St. Francis men’s basketball team traveled to a Big Ten city.
The Terriers opened the season with a battle against Wisconsin in Madison, and on Thursday night, they made their way to University Park to face the Penn State Nittany Lions. St. Francis would come up short, falling 74-59.
Just like their game against Wisconsin, St. Francis was able to take a lead in the first minutes. After trapping the Nittany Lions under the basket on the opening possession, Rob Higgins was able to secure the loose ball as Penn State attempted to pass out and drove the length of the floor for a contested layup, opening the scoring with a 2-0 lead.
The next time down the floor, Patrick Emilien and Vuk Stevanic keep the Terriers second possession alive with a pair of offensive rebounds, Stevanic putting his back up to give St. Francis a 4-2 lead, and forcing the Nittany Lions to take a timeout.
SFC kept it to a single digit deficit through the majority of the first half, dropping it to a one possession game on back to back trips down the floor in the first five minutes.
First, it was Jack Hemphill spotting up on the wing for a three on an assist from Higgins to make it a 11-9 game. Then, on the next trip down, Trey Quartlebaum hit a long jumper off his left foot just inside the arc for two, cutting the deficit to 14-11.
Penn State would settle in from there, extending its lead out to as many as nine points. St. Francis would fight its way back in the final three minutes of the first half, as a Larry Moreno fast break three cut the PSU lead to 30-25 with 2:55 to play.
The Nittany Lions would extend their lead to 40-27 by half, and carry that lead to the final horn.
Just like their last time out against the Big Ten, transfer forward Patrick Emilien would lead the team in scoring, finishing with 16 points, adding a team-high six rebounds, as well as two steals and one assist.
Tedrick Wilcox Jr. notched a season-high nine points in 16 minutes, adding one steal and one defensive rebound. Fellow transfer Bahaïde Haïdara also got his most time on the court this season Thursday night, contributing 9 points in 18 minutes, adding one assist.
Larry Moreno matched his season best with eight points (3-4 FG, 2-3 3PT) with one assist in 20 minutes off the bench.
Higgins matched his career high mark for steals in a game, notching five. That matches his previous career high, recorded against LIU on Jan. 30, 2021. He added eight points, four rebounds and three assists on the night.