Penn State (3-0) defeated the Montana Grizzlies (2-1) Wednesday night by a score of 70-57. The Nittany Lions missed star guard Tony Carr for the majority of the second half after the sophomore went down with an ankle injury.
Lamar Stevens led the way for Pat Chambers’ squad with 25 points and 7 rebounds in the victory. Shep Garner and Josh Reaves also finished in double figures.
How It Happened
After a back-and-forth start to the game, Penn State went on an 8-2 run to extend its lead to 23-16 with 8:36 to go. Penn State looked comfortable being able to get inside against a much taller Montana team. Penn State was able to shoot 56% from the field to this point, as well as convert three and-ones to break out in the early action.
Following an ugly two minutes at the end of the half that saw Montana only score one point and Penn State score two points, Penn State held a 34-29 advantage at halftime. Lamar Stevens led all scorers in the half with ten points and three rebounds. Mike Watkins contributed eight points and two blocks. Tony Carr had a cold half only shooting 2-8 from the field.
The beginning of the second half featured much of the same — Penn State taking its opportunities only for Montana to string together a run and keep itself in the game.
With 17:32 to go in the game, Carr went down hard favoring his ankle and had to be helped off the court. To this point, Carr had seven points, two rebounds, and two assists. The Nittany Lions struggled to string together the same offensive prowess without their main playmaker, as Montana once again closed in on the Nittany Lions after the team took its largest lead to that point.
Chambers said postgame that he’s unsure of the severity of Carr’s injury, only that the guard has a sprained ankle. He believes Carr could have gone back in the game, but “the long haul” is more important going forward.
After the Grizzlies drew within a single point of Penn State at the midway point of the second half, Garner and Stevens took control with back-to-back buckets from the pair to force Montana to call timeout.
Coach Chambers was forced to take a timeout with 3:45 to go after a three-minute period of Penn State going 1-7 and Montana going 1-8. Garner re-entered the game with the Nittany Lions only up 58-55. Garner missed two foul shots, but immediately redeemed himself with back-to-back threes to pretty much seal the win.
“It was a big time effort by him to have the confidence,” Chambers said of Garner’s clutch shots down the stretch.
Penn State held on down the stretch to start 3-0 for the first time since 2011.
Player Of The Game
Shep Garner | Senior | Guard
Shep Garner was forced into the lead guard position with Tony Carr injuring his ankle early in the second half. Garner hit two big threes with under three minutes to got to increase Penn State’s lead from three points to nine points. Garner finished the game with a season high 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Penn State continues to compete in the Legends Classic Friday night against Columbia at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on BTN Plus.