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Penn State Hoops Takes Care Of Business, Blows Past Maryland Eastern Shore 84-46 In Season Opener

Penn State men’s basketball (1-0) couldn’t have asked for a better season debut with a dominant 84-46 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore.

The Nittany Lions sent out a balanced offensive attack that saw six different players reach double figures and strong defense that made the Hawks cough up 19 turnovers. Lamar Stevens led the way for Penn State with 17 points while Mike Watkins finished with a staggering seven blocks.

How It Happened

Penn State looked smooth as butter on its first two possessions, as Mike Watkins worked the block to score off a nice move followed by a Myles Dread three in transition. Lamar Stevens made the cross court pass to the sophomore after leaping over everyone around him for a rebound.

A bad pass from Stevens cost the Nittany Lions on their next go, but No. 11 responded with a monstrous putback off a missed layup from Jamari Wheeler, who snagged his first steal of the season.

The Nittany Lions rolled to a ten-point lead early on, as stout defense and efficient scoring shut down Maryland Eastern Shore. The Hawks weren’t going to let themselves get completely stonewalled however, as they continuously fought back with strong drives to the basket and full-court presses in an effort to keep the divide from growing. Despite these attempts, Penn State remained on top 20-10 midway through the first half.

Defense took over on both sides as Penn State couldn’t seem to put together a consistent offensive effort, despite dominating on the other end of the court. But the Nittany Lions were able to get going eventually and went on a 15-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back threes from Izaiah Brockington and Stevens to push the lead to 20.

The Hawks look lost on offense as the suffocating Penn State defense forced turnover after turnover. During that Nittany Lion run, the Hawks went on a six-minute scoring drought and coughed up a whooping seven turnover in that time frame alone. Jamari Wheeler led the way for Penn State with three steals and Watkins kept the paint clean with two blocks.

Penn State would go cold in the closing minutes of the first half, as it went on an 0-5 shooting run. Its defense prevented any sort of Maryland Eastern Shore last-minute momentum swinger, but Curtis Jones Jr. would finally make his presence known as he plowed past the Hawks interior defense for a layup as the seconds trickled down.

After some NCAA drama regarding his eligibility, the graduate transfer was finally able to suit up for his new team and gave the Nittany Lions a 37-17 lead going into the second half.

Penn State entered the second half hungry to push that 20-point lead to 30. Watkins swatted two balls in the first few minutes as well as earning himself a double-double with expert glass cleaning and strong interior scoring.

Stevens was on another level as well, as he looked like a beast in transition with explosive slams (including an out of this world alley-oop) and was eagle-eyed from deep, adding a pair of treys. The Nittany Lions were pushed that lead even further, with the score already at 54-19 five minutes into the half.

Dread got his fifth three of the game to go and gave Penn State a 40-point lead just 13 minutes into the second half. The Nittany Lions weren’t letting up the gas one bit either. Watkins continued hosting his own personal block party, getting three more to add to his trio from the first half. Dread wasn’t about to give an inch on defense either, as he had a chase down block to add to his impressive collection of threes.

The poor Hawks seemed lost in the dust. Another tough offensive drought for them, largely due to excellent Penn State defense, gave the Nittany Lions plenty of time to grow the lead. They’d flirt with a 50-point lead, but were just two points shy after the Curtis and Myreon Jones combined for a pair of threes. But Maryland Eastern Shore still had some fight in them, going on a 12-5 run of their own to prevent another half-century deficits.

That run by the Hawks was too little too late however. Penn State’s complete dominance on both ends of the court was too much to overcome. While they were denied a 50 points margin of victory, the Nittany Lions settled for 38 as they cruised to an 84-46 victory.

Takeaways

  • Penn State really couldn’t have asked any more out of its star pair of Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins. Stevens chipped in 17 points and six boards and Watkins had himself a double-double, going for 12 points and 12 rebounds along with seven blocks.
  • It might not have been against the most elite competition, but Penn State’s defense looked solid. They didn’t miss a beat from the exhibition win over Delaware, with fluid movement and players unafraid to pull double (or triple!) teams to force bad decisions.
  • Stevens and Watkins can’t do this thing alone, and the supporting cast showed up to play. Four other players besides the big two reached double figures, as Myles Dread had 15 points on five threes. Myreon Jones had ten points and 6 assists. Jamari Wheeler might’ve gone scoreless, but he made up for it with four steals, one block and four assists.

What’s Next

Penn State will finish its opening homestand against Wagner on Nov. 9. Tip-off is at 4 p.m.

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About the Author

Matt Paolizzi

Matt is a junior majoring in Secondary Education and minoring in Philosophy. He's a Philly sports fan, which causes him existential dread on the daily coupled with a deep distaste for the current state of Star Wars. Send him death threats at [email protected] and follow @m_paolizzi on Twitter for a near constant supply of second-hand embarrassment.

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