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Penn State Stomps Canisius, 81-67, In First Of Two Rec Hall Showdowns

It seemed like it was about to happen again, but it didn’t.

With its 15-point halftime lead cut to six, Penn State evoked memories of the last time it played at Rec Hall. Then, the Lions blew a 20-point lead to a supposedly-inferior visitor, Princeton.

But Penn State, thanks to four double-digit scorers led by Brandon Taylor’s 18, overcame several second-half Canisius runs en route to a 81-67 victory. Julian Moore added 14 points on only five shots, and Josh Reaves’ pesky defense urged the Lions to victory.

“It’s nice to finally get a win at Rec Hall,” Pat Chambers said. “It feels good.”

Penn State shot 56 percent in the game.

How It Happened

Canisius’s poor post defensive was evident in the game’s opening minutes. Jordan Dickerson scored on easy lay-ins on Penn State’s first two possessions. Donovon Jack, who entered on the best three-game streak of the season, followed with another score down low the next time down the floor. The Lions jumped out to an 8-0 lead, all on points inside the paint.

“I feel like we needed to pound the ball inside,” Chambers said. “We did that.”

Penn State’s post play opened up the perimeter, an area where the Lions saw relative success in wins against Boston College and Bucknell. But the Lions couldn’t hit the long shot early, and an 8-2 run in the middle of the first half forced Chambers to call a timeout with only a 17-14 advantage. Penn State hit seven of its first eight shots, then missed four of its next five.

“I think we’re so amped up [to be playing at Rec] that we tend to do things that we’re not supposed to do,” Chambers said.

But the Lions battled back on the heels of its defense. A defensive rebound turned three-point play by Moore was followed by a coast to coast dunk by Reaves. After a timeout, Devin Foster corralled a miss and sprinted ahead for another score plus the foul. Quickly, the lead ballooned to 13.

Deividas Zemgulis, who’s seen increased minutes lately, hit his second three of the year give Penn State a 15-point lead. It was an advantage the Lions took into the break, 40-25, after 64 percent first half shooting.

Cansius came out of the break with a 10-2 run despite an ugly first half. The Lions, meanwhile, spent their first four minutes of the second half committing five fouls and three turnovers. The lead was quickly sliced to seven, bring back the eery memories of Penn State’s collapse against Princeton.

“It didn’t feel any different,” Taylor said of the different venue. “We’re still playing basketball.”

The threat of another collapse lingered for several minutes, and a three-pointer cut the lead to six. But a Garner scoop lay-up, an and-one by Moore, and a put-back by Payton Banks pushed the lead back to 12 points with less than 10 minutes to play. Five minutes later, Banks drilled a three to bring the lead back to the halftime margin of 15, 66-54.

Canisius couldn’t mount another run, and Penn State won, 81-67.

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Player of the Game

Julian Moore had his second double-digit scoring game of the year, and of his career. The sophomore big man scored 14 points on 4-5 shooting from the field and 6-6 from the line to lead the Lions in scoring. His lack of rebounding presence (he only tallied three) left something to be desired, as Canisius grabbed several offensive boards in the second half.

Still, his well-timed and-one’s provided the Lions’ offense the spark it needed to hold off several Canisius runs.

Josh Reaves was all over the place as usual Thursday evening as well. His eight points came on an efficient 4-7 shooting, and his four steals led to the transition baskets that Penn State needs. A team-high 10 rebounds from a true freshman two guard is no small feat, either.

What’s Next

Penn State quite literally returns to Rec on Saturday against a 4-3 Louisiana-Monroe side. It will be only the Lions’ third game at Rec Hall since 1996.

About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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