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Penn State Hoops Outlasts Quinnipiac 77-68

Penn State men’s basketball (9-3) took on Quinnipiac (9-4) on Thursday afternoon in the two team’s first-ever meeting and bested the Bobcats by a final score of 77-68.

With Seth Lundy sidelined following an ankle injury against Canisius, the Nittany Lions showcased energy off the bench to survive a slow start and take care of business against the Bobcats.

How It Happened

Quinnipiac kicked things off with a short shot in the paint by Bobcat forward Ike Nweke, but Cam Wynter didn’t hesitate to replicate it on the other end and tie the game at two all.

Nweke sunk the first three-pointer of the game for the Bobcats after an offensive rebound on the following possession. Freshman Kebba Njie scored his first points after Andrew Funk found him wide-open down low for the assist.

Jalen Pickett, who currently leads the Big Ten in assists, grabbed his first of the contest when he found Wynter underneath the basket to extend the early lead. Njie then placed an exclamation mark on a 7-0 scoring run by the Nittany Lions with an emphatic and-one slam dunk.

Pickett kept up the pace and drilled a mid-range jumper to force a Quinnipiac timeout as Penn State held on to an 11-5 lead.

Quinnipiac’s Tyrese Williams answered the Nittany Lions’ run by coming out of the huddle with a three to shrink the deficit to three, but Dallion Johnson responded a few possessions later by splashing the Nittany Lions’ first deep ball of the game with just above 13:30 left in the first half.

Quinnipiac battled back to come within one, but Pickett shut down the run with an and-one followed by back-to-back buckets.

Pickett approached triple-double territory before halftime with nine points, five assists, and nine rebounds by doing it all and leading the charge. He sparked a 13-3 scoring run for the Nittany Lions, capped off by a three from the wing by Myles Dread, just Penn State’s second of the game.

Penn State led the Bobcats 33-23 at halftime after the first 20 minutes of play.

Dezi Jones drilled a triple for the Bobcats out of the break, but Wynter responded with a bucket of his own.

Wynter then reeled in a touchdown pass from Pickett to put Penn State back up by double-digit numbers. Pickett then tallied his seventh assist after finding Andrew Funk for his first three of the game to open up Penn State’s biggest lead at 42-28.

Michael Henn got involved in the action in the second half with a deep ball of his own, and Funk followed that up with another three to put Penn State up 15. Funk started to feel himself in the second half, scored four more points, and forced a Bobcats timeout with 12 minutes remaining and a 14-point Penn State lead.

Quinnipiac wouldn’t go away, however, and as the Nittany Lions found their stroke from deep, so did the Bobcats.

Williams hit another, and Tymu Chenery nailed a pair of threes to bring the Bobcats back to a single-digit deficit. Pickett put a swift stop to Quinnipiac’s momentum with a three of his own and an assist to Henn cutting to the bucket.

Penn State couldn’t cash in and get Pickett his tenth assist, but the Nittany Lions managed to fend off the feisty Bobcats and secure the victory.

Takeaways:

  • Seth Lundy missed his first game of the season with an ankle injury and his presence was sorely missed, especially his size and athleticism. But the Nittany Lions survived their senior leader’s absence with players like Jameel Brown and Mikey Henn stepping up. Brown had a huge momentum-swinging block in the first half, and Henn finished with 11 points.
  • Penn State can survive a poor shooting effort against a strong opponent with defense and discipline. Quinnipiac is a team that presents a lot of size and strength, but the Nittany Lions weathered the storm and came out on top. They started out shooting 2-for-16 from three-point land and faced a tough task on the offensive glass, but kept seeking open looks on offense and held down the fort on defense. Penn State shot 4-for-13 from deep in the second half and the Bobcats were held to under 70 points without Lundy, the team’s best defender and arguably the best in the Big Ten.
  • Jalen Pickett can make an argument for being the best overall player in the Big Ten. The senior guard posted an impressive stat line of 21 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, coming just short of his second triple-double of the season.

What’s Next?

Penn State remains at home in Happy Valley for a date with Delaware State at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 29, before the Nittany Lions get into the thick of conference play in the new year.

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About the Author

Zach Donaldson

Zach is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer for Onward State and serves as an editor for Penn State’s CommRadio. He hails from Downingtown, Pa., or in other words "just outside of Philly." When he's not watching or ranting about Philly sports, you can probably find him at the gym. If you like sports tweets, follow him on Twitter @zachdonaldson_ and all inquiries can go to [email protected]

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