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Penn State Hoops Dominates Bucknell 98-70 Thanks To Impressive Second Half Performance

Penn State men’s basketball (4-0) handled Bucknell fairly easily 98-70 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday night.

After leading by just three points at halftime, Penn State exploded in the second half with a dominant offensive performance. Lamar Stevens led the way with 27 points while Mike Watkins followed closely with 18 of his own. Stevens also had three steals to help the Nittany Lions take care of the Bison on both sides of the ball.

How It Happened

Bucknell opened the scoring in tonight’s contest, but the Nittany Lions responded with an offensive run that included six quick points inside for Mike Watkins. Along with his scoring, the senior also had a strong block in the opening minutes. Penn State led 11-8 heading in to the first media timeout.

The Nittany Lions proceeded to go on a 7-0 run out of the break, as Curtis Jones Jr. hit his first three of the night. The Bison countered with a three of their own, but Pat Chambers’ squad still led 20-11 with 11:11 remaining in the first half.

Izaiah Brockington started to get hot for the Nittany Lions in the first half when he hit two tough lay ups inside. Myles Dread then hit his second three of the night, but Penn State’s defense couldn’t seem to pull away too far from Bucknell. Seven quick points for Ben Robertson shortened the Nittany Lions’ lead to 31-27 with 5:54 remaining in the first half and forced Chambers to take a timeout.

The two squads continued to go back-and-forth for the next few minutes, as Jamari Wheeler and Jones had a couple nice finishes inside, but Bruce Moore kept the Bison alive with a team-leading 12 points in the first half. Scores from the pair of Wheeler and Jones closed out the first half scoring for Penn State. The Nittany Lions took a 45-42 lead in to the locker room.

Lamar Stevens came out firing to open the second half. The senior scored eight points unanswered on his own to give the Nittany Lions a 53-42 lead and forced Bucknell to spend a timeout. The Bison then went on a five-point scoring run of their own, but Dread hit another three to shut down the run.

The Nittany Lions stretched their lead back up to double digits thanks to a combination of defensive hustle and strong finishing inside. They went on a 8-0 run that included several more pretty finishes from Wheeler and a massive dunk from Watkins inside, which gave them a 67-51 lead with about 14 minutes remaining in the game.

Penn State didn’t stop off the timeout, as Stevens finished with a massive dunk right out of the gate. The Nittany Lions’ continued with a total of 14 unanswered points before Bucknell could score again.

Bucknell struggled to make up for the deficit throughout the second half, as the Nittany Lions’ offensive effort was too much to keep pace with. The Bison shrunk Penn State’s lead to 14 points with 7:27 remaining in the game, but another scoring burst led by Stevens stretched the Nittany Lion lead back up to 85-66.

Penn State’s effort remained high to finish the game. Watkins refused to quit on either side of the floor while Wheeler continued to push the transition offense. A gritty offensive rebound followed by a pure finish inside by Watkins gave the Nittany Lions a 94-70 lead with 3:23 remaining.

The Nittany Lions ran out the clock on their final few possessions to win by a final score of 98-70.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s defense woke up in the second half. After allowing 42 points and a shooting percentage of 48.6% to Bucknell in the first half, the Nittany Lions held the Bison to just 28 points and 36.4% from the field in the second half. The Nittany Lions also forced 14 turnovers throughout the game.
  • Aside from the defense, the offensive effort was no doubt led by Lamar Stevens. The senior finished with a total of 27 points, 21 of them coming in the second half. He shot an impressive 11-16 from the field and also led the team with eight total rebounds.
  • While Stevens was the highlight, it seemed like everyone was scoring for the Nittany Lions. Four players finished the night with double-digit point totals — including 18 from Watkins, 12 from Dread, and 10 from Wheeler. Dread also continues to shoot lights out, as he led the team with four threes on the night.

What’s Next

Penn State will host Yale this Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip off is set for 4 p.m.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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