Penn State Hoops Holds On To Beat Rutgers 66-65
Penn State men’s basketball (13-17, 6-13 Big Ten) took on Rutgers (14-15, 7-12 Big Ten) and came away with a 66-65 victory on Wednesday night in Piscataway.
Despite a furious Rutgers comeback from a 20-point deficit, Penn State held on to pick up its fifth win in seven games. Josh Reaves made a game-sealing block in the dying seconds to cap off an 18-point performance from Lamar Stevens with a victory.
How It Happened
Rutgers opened the scoring with a basket 1:24 into Wednesday’s game, but Penn State rallied to take a 4-2 lead with 15:33 to play in the first half. The Nittany Lions started the game by shooting 2-for-8 from the field, while Rutgers’ 1-for-6 start on offense was equally dismal.
The two offenses continued to struggle throughout the early stages of the game — a Rasir Bolton three was the only field goal made by either team in a five-minute stretch following the first media timeout. Rutgers had to wait 6:59 between its first and second field goals of the contest, but free throws kept the Scarlet Knights’ deficit at 9-8 with 11:23 left in the first half.
Penn State extended the lead to 15-8 thanks to three consecutive baskets from Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins. The Rutgers offense woke up after a three-minute drought to cut the deficit to three points, but the Nittany Lions then opened up a 15-4 run while the Scarlet Knights struggled to find offense yet again.
The first half ended with Pat Chambers’ squad leading 37-19 behind an 11-point performance from Stevens and solid bench performances from Myreon Jones and Watkins, who finished with nine and eight points, respectively.
Penn State’s offense slowed down at the start of the half. A pair of John Harrar free throws were the Nittany Lions’ only points of the first two-and-a-half minutes as Rutgers went on a quick 7-0 run to cut into its deficit. Lamar Stevens threw down a violent dunk to get things started offensively in the period, and the Nittany Lions led by 15 entering the first media timeout of the second half.
The Scarlet Knights used this momentum to pull within nine, but a Rasir Bolton three was enough to give Penn State a 10-point lead midway through the second half.
Myles Dread knocked down a huge three out of the timeout to silence the Rutgers Athletic Center, but Rutgers responded with its first three-pointer of the game to pull back within 10. However, Rasir Bolton got those three points right back with a trifecta of his own.
Penn State had an answer for everything Rutgers mustered offensively to take a 12-point lead into a timeout with 7:46 to play in the second half. That timeout was part of a two-minute scoring drought by both teams — a flagrant foul by Myles Dread led to two free throws that broke the scoring drought.
Those free throws turned out to be the spark of a quick 7-0 run that brought Rutgers within five points of Penn State with 5:24 left in the game. The Nittany Lions finally managed to break their 2:50-long scoring drought with a free throw by Stevens out of a Rutgers timeout.
The Scarlet Knights cut the deficit to three points as Penn State failed to score a field goal for nearly five minutes. Rasir Bolton sank a lay-up to extend the lead to 63-58, but Rutgers’ Ron Harper got those points right back.
A Josh Reaves three-pointer silenced the RAC and doubled Penn State’s lead to 66-60, but Rutgers once again matched that with a trey of its own. The Scarlet Knights scored again to trim their deficit to 66-65 with 1:35 to play, but the Nittany Lions managed to hold on and win by the slimmest of margins thanks to a huge block by Josh Reaves.
- Myreon Jones gave Penn State a much-needed spark off the bench tonight with 13 points. His scoring helped the Nittany Lions keep Rutgers at bay — particularly in the first half of the contest.
- Mike Watkins was an absolute monster on the glass and in the defensive end of the floor. He racked up eight points and 14 rebounds while stifling the Scarlet Knights’ low-post offense and leading Penn State’s fantastic defensive effort.
- We may have finally found a definitive “h” counter: Penn State’s pink and black uniforms. Honestly, it’s science at this point, because the Nittany Lions are now 4-0 in their snazzy alternates after tonight’s win — even if this game probably should’ve ended in a Nittany Lion loss.
The Nittany Lions will wrap up their regular season with a home contest against Illinois on Sunday. The game will tip off at noon on Sunday, March 10 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
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About the Author
The redshirt freshman has seen increased reps at wide receiver and punt returner this season.
Coming off another conference win, the Nittany Lions emphasized the importance of having each other’s backs in the midst of the Big Ten slate.
“Now, running out of the tunnel at a White Out, it gives you chills.”