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Penn State Hoops Handles North Florida 87-72 To Open Season

Coming off an NIT championship, Penn State (1-0) cruised in its season opener against North Florida (0-2) 87-72 on Friday night. Freshmen Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton combined for 30 points on the night in their stellar debuts, with Stevens leading the way with 22.

How It Happened

Penn State started off the season with a bang, just like it did to end the 2017-18 season. Lamar Stevens and Josh Reaves combined for three and-ones in the first six minutes, giving the Nittany Lions an early 12-8 lead. North Florida wouldn’t go down easy, though, exploiting Penn State’s inexperience down low. Without suspended Mike Watkins and academically ineligible Satchel Pierce, the team is extremely thin at the center position.

Nittany Lion freshman Myles Dread splashed a three with 10:46 left in the opening frame for the first points of of his collegiate career. The Detroit native scored 23 points on 7-for-12 shooting in an exhibition game against West Virginia, giving fans some hope after the loss of Tony Carr to the NBA. After a three minute scoring drought, Dread hit another triple to extend the lead to 6 with 7:20 remaining. The Ospreys went ice cold after this, making only one of their next 15 shots from the field.

As the half winded down, the Nittany Lions took advantage of North Florida’s poor shooting. No. 13 Rasir Bolton got into the action, hitting a three with just under two minutes left for his first points. Lamar Stevens led all scorers with 18 points to go alongside four rebounds, as the lead became 40-28 as the buzzer sounded. Penn State finished the half shooting a respectable 46 percent, but only made a quarter of its three pointers. The Osprey’s Garrett Sams scored 13 points despite going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc as well.

Dread picked up right where he left off in the second half, hitting another trey to give him 11 points on the night. Despite a few turnovers and ill-advised shots in the opening minutes, the Ospreys couldn’t capitalize. They missed their first 19 (!) three pointers, playing a major role in the outcome of this game. Forward Ezekiel Balogun finally broke the streak with 10:10 left in the contest, but his team still trailed by double digits.

A thunderous dunk along the baseline by Josh Reaves gave the Nittany Lions a 13-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining. No. 23 was a force down the stretch, scoring 14 of his 19 points in the second half. The outcome was hardly ever in doubt for Penn State, as they led for over 33 minutes of the game. The Nittany Lions shot 38 percent from downtown compared to the Osprey’s 18 percent, and got to the foul line 13 more times. 

Player Of The Game

Lamar Stevens | Junior | Forward

With Tony Carr gone pro, Penn State needed to Stevens to be its go-to scorer on offense. And boy, did he look like it on Friday. No. 11 finished with a double-double: 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting and ten rebounds. The Roman Catholic product looked comfortable in his new role, showing why he was named to the Julius Erving Award watch list. Stevens will try to duplicate his hot start this Monday.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will face Jacksonville State at home on Monday, November 12. The game will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network, with tipoff scheduled at 7 p.m.

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About the Author

Austin Smith

Austin Smith is a junior broadcast journalism major. He grew up in New Jersey and is a writer for Onward State. He specializes in football, basketball, and the New York Knicks.

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