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Penn State Hoops Opens Cancun Challenge With 77-59 Victory Over Wright State

Penn State men’s basketball (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) dominated Wright State (3-2, 0-0 Horizon League) in Cancun on Tuesday night with a 77-59 victory.

Lamar Stevens led the way with 25 points and five rebounds, while Myles Dread and Jamari Wheeler each finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Josh Reaves finished the game with a double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds for Pat Chambers’ team.

How It Happened

Penn State controlled proceedings from start to finish in its opening game of the Cancun Challenge. The team began the game on a 12-3 run and never took its foot off the gas.

It took Wright State nearly three-and-a-half minutes to finally drain a basket, but Jamari Wheeler’s first three-pointer of the year was an instant response to Bill Wampler’s trifecta. The Raiders cut their deficit to six with 11:49 to play in the half, but Pat Chambers’ program responded with a 15-2 run to pull away midway through the frame.

The Nittany Lions maintained a strong hold on the game thanks to a hot performance from their shooters in the first half. They shot 61.5 percent(!) from the field throughout the first 20 minutes of the game, including a 5-for-9 performance from downtown.

Penn State extended its lead to 19 just before the end of the half, but a buzzer-beating jumper by Wright State’s Cole Gentry gave his team a bit of momentum heading into the second.

Wright State got off to a better start in the second half and, thanks to a slightly worse performance from the Nittany Lion offense, cut the deficit to 13 with 14:26 to play. Pat Chambers’ team would rediscover its first-half form offensively to keep the Raiders within at least 12 points for the remainder of the game.

Despite Penn State’s best efforts, Wright State wouldn’t go away that easily, but couldn’t stop the Nittany Lion offense throughout the final 10 minutes of the game. A late scoring run put Penn State in command and helped it cruise to its third victory of the 2018-19 campaign.

Josh Reaves completed his first double-double of the year in the second half — he finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Myles Dread was also excellent on the defensive side of the ball with a game-high six steals as the team improved to 3-1 on the 2018 season.

Takeaways

  • This one may have been a bit obvious, but Lamar Stevens is pretty good at basketball. He bullied Wright State’s defenders throughout the game en route to scoring 25 points for a third consecutive contest. It’s still really early, but the junior certainly looks like he could be a contender for the Big Ten’s player of the year.
  • Myles Dread was excellent defensively for the Nittany Lions this evening. His quick reflexes helped him swipe the ball away from Wright State six times on Tuesday evening — the freshman’s made a promising start to his Penn State career through four games.
  • Two of Penn State’s most important players got into foul trouble tonight. Lamar Stevens and John Harrar each had to sit out for a bit after logging four fouls against the Raiders, but this point is probably moot because of tonight’s blowout scoreline. With that being said, Stevens and Harrar are critical to Penn State’s success in the low post, so Pat Chambers can’t afford to have this issue once conference play begins.

What’s Next

Penn State will take on Bradley, which beat SMU earlier this evening, for the Cancun Challenge championship on Wednesday. The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. and be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]

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