STATE COLLEGE — After his team’s loss at Wisconsin
on Wednesday night, Michigan coach Tommy Amaker stressed how
important Saturday’s game at Penn State would be for his
Wolverines.

Kate Green
TONY DING/Daily
Michigan center Courtney Sims jumps over Penn State guard Marlon Smith at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College on Saturday afternoon.

Apparently, his team got the message.

Michigan was clearly the more aggressive team en route to a
relatively easy 69-59 Wolverine win at the Bryce Jordan Center
— a win that snapped Michigan’s three-game losing
streak.

“I think that we didn’t play gritty enough,”
Penn State coach Ed Dechellis said. “We didn’t play
like a team that had just come off an embarrassing (80-37) loss (at
Illinois on Wednesday), and we didn’t play as hard as we
could to try to win this game.”

Michigan had Penn State on the ropes, leading 21-8 with 7:20 to
play in the first half.

But the Wolverines allowed the Nittany Lions to go on a 10-2 run
to pull within seven with just under four minutes to play in the
half.

Michigan (2-3 Big Ten, 11-5 overall) went on to score nine of
the next 14 points — highlighted by a three pointer from
guard Daniel Horton on a nice dish by Bernard Robinson — to
lead 32-22 at halftime.

Penn State made a quick run coming out of the lockerroom behind
eight straight points from junior Jan Jagla.

But the Nittany Lions couldn’t stop Michigan on defense
during the same stretch and never got closer than six for the rest
of the game.

Sophomore Lester Abram led Michigan with 19 points on 6-for-8
shooting, including two three-pointers.

“(Lester) was very efficient,” Amaker said.
“He took really good shots.”

Amaker was also pleased with the play of forwards J.C. Mathis
and Brent Petway, who combined for eight points, nine boards and
three blocks.

“Both of them really ignited our team this
afternoon,” Amaker said.

Petway silenced an already quiet Penn State crowd with two
emphatic dunks: the first off an alley-oop from Horton and the
second on a follow-up of a Bernard Robinson miss. Sixteen of
Petway’s 19 field goals this season have come on dunks.

Horton didn’t start the game for the Wolverines due to
“missed academic appointments,” according to Amaker.
But the 6-foot-3 sophomore came off the bench to contribute 13
points, five rebounds, five assists and no turnovers, playing his
most complete game of the season.

Freshman Dion Harris, who started in Horton’s absence,
filled in at point guard and scored 13 points.

“I just wanted to go out there, take care of the ball, get
us in our offense and get the ball to our guys,” Harris
said.

The 6-foot-4 guard from Detroit Redford is one of just three
Michigan players with an assist-to-turnover ratio over one, with 33
assists on versus 29 turnovers.

“He handled the ball for us, he shot the ball well, he
made good decisions and he defended well,” Horton said.
“That’s Dion — we know we’re gonna get that
from him every game.”

For the Nittany Lions, leading scorer Jan Jagla struggled,
scoring just two first-half points and 13 for the game. Freshman
guard Marlin Smith led Penn State (2-3, 8-8) with 15 points.

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