Basketball Falls In Opener To Albany 87-81
Led by Shep Garner’s 25 points, Penn State (0-1) fell to the Albany Great Danes (1-0) 87-81 on Friday night, but showed potential for a fast-paced and high scoring season.
How It Happened
The game started 6-6 in the opening minutes as redshirt freshman and forward Mike Watkins got Penn State on the board first with a jumper topped off with a block on the next play. Despite Watkins physical play, culminating in five blocked shots, the Lions had trouble shutting down the sophomore pair of guards, Joe Cremo and David Nichols, who together scored 41 of the Danes 87. Nichols drained the first bucket of the night for Albany and would rack up 19 points for himself.
Following the first five minutes, Albany retained the lead for the remainder of the game due in part to early fouling and poor perimeter defense. The Lions had more fouls (12) in the first half than made field goals (9). This coupled with Albany’s ability to exploit the perimeter and score five three-pointers in the first half is what enabled the Great Danes to hold the lead for roughly 35 minutes.
As time wound down in the first half the Lions trailed 41-22 with possession of the ball. A smart assist from Garner to forward Payton Banks for the last second three brought the score to 41-25 at halftime in Albany’s favor.
There were hopeful signs in the second half however from experienced players as well as new faces.
Mike Watkins continued to dominate defensively—leading the team in blocking, rebounding and tying the lead for stealing with guard Terrence Samuel. Watkins, who scored 10 points, looked ready to assume the role of a burgeoning team leader whose time on the bench last year seems to have prepared him adequately. Lamar Stevens preformed well under pressure, sinking 6-7 free throws and finishing with 10 points total as well. Fellow freshman Tony Carr added 14 of his own points going 2-6 from the three-point line and taking pressure off of the other guards.
The team came out to play in the second half and scored 45 points in the final 13 minutes of play to come within 5 points of the Great Danes at one point but ultimately could not catch up. Hustle up and down the court by Garner, Stevens and Carr on multiple fast breaks enabled such a high scoring half but may become the Achilles Heel of the team. Penn State will have to figure out how to score 45 points within the first 13 minutes, not the last.
Player Of The Game
Joe Cremo and David Nichols | Guards | Sophomores
The Albany duo in the back court put up 41 of the Great Dane’s 87 points in the tight win.
Penn State is back in action at the BJC on Sunday at 6 p.m. against Duquesne.