ATLANTA — Georgia Tech kept getting lost on defense, and Penn State had no trouble figuring out where the basket was from 3-point range.
The free-throw line? That was a bit of an adventure for the Nittany Lions.
Stanley Pringle scored 22 points and Penn State kept knocking down open shots from beyond the arc, allowing the Nittany Lions to withstand some woeful foul shooting for an 85-83 victory over the Yellow Jackets in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night.
Georgia Tech lost despite Gani Lawal scoring a career-best 34 points.
Penn State (7-1) squandered an early 10-point lead but looked to be in good shape when Morrissey made a jumper with his foot on the 3-point line for an 81-74 lead with just over two minutes left, after hitting two big 3s earlier in the half to help the Nittany Lions pull away.
Overall, Penn State was 8-of-19 from long range, compared with a 3-of-16 performance by the Yellow Jackets.
"We have some guys who have really accepted their roles," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "Danny Morrissey was starting for us, but we tried to go with quicker kids in the backcourt because they can do a couple of more things. But he came in and played his role. He's a good shooter. He made open shots. We're a decent 3-point shooting team."
Georgia Tech (4-1) had a chance after Penn State missed three straight times on its first attempt in the 1-and-1. Two Pringle free throws with 14.2 seconds left made it 85-81 before Lawal's dunk pulled the Yellow Jackets within range.
Jamelle Cornley missed two more free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining and Georgia Tech rebounded.
Iman Shumpert got off a running 3-pointer, but the ball clanked off the side of the rim as the horn sounded.
"The game shouldn't have been that close," Shumpert said. "We had too many letdowns on defense. That's what put us in a hole."
The Yellow Jackets led for the last time when Shumpert's thunderous dunk made it 54-52 with about 13 minutes left. But Pringle got open for a 3-pointer, a familiar weapon for the Nittany Lions the rest of the way.
After Lawal made a couple of free throws to close the gap to 68-64, Morrissey popped outside on a defensive breakdown and found himself open. He swished the 3-pointer to give the Nittany Lions some breathing room.
Alade Aminu turned it over, Talor Battle raced the other way and laid it in, also drawing a foul from Maurice Miller. Battle made the free throw to complete the three-point play and restore Penn State to the 10-point lead it had in the first 7 minutes.
Lawal hit a jumper to stem the tide, but Morrissey found himself with another clear look from beyond the 3-point stripe when the Yellow Jackets failed to rotate. He connected again to put Penn State up 77-66 with 6:23 left.
"This is a tough loss," Lawal said, shaking his head. "Every time we tried to inch back, we would get lost and let one of their shooters get open. That just killed us."
The Nittany Lions tried their best to give it away at the foul line. David Jackson missed a couple of free throws in the 1-and-1. Battle also failed to connect on the front end. Finally, Pringle came through with what turned out to be the winning points.
"Coach told us to slow it down," Pringle said. "But we missed our free throws, and they got back in the game."
Battle scored 18 points, Morrissey 13 and Cornley 11 for Penn State. Georgia Tech was basically a one-man show offensively, with Lawal making 15 of 20 from the field. Shumpert added 14 points and Aminu 12.
"I try to play hard and dominate. That's my mind-set," Lawal said. "I did have a pretty good night, but it's still an 'L."'
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt couldn't stop moaning about his team's defensive problems.
"We fell asleep defensively a couple of times and it cost us," he said. "It's a tough way for a team to lose a game. We were pretty efficient offensively, but we just didn't do the job tonight."