MBB: Penn State Downs Wright State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-3,0-0 Big Ten) hosted the Wright State Raiders (6-3, 0-0 Horizon League) in the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night. Penn State’s 72-50 victory added another notch to their now four-game winning-streak.
“Our preparation and the preparation that our coaches did passed the message down and we got the job done,” junior forward Payton Banks said.
The first ever meeting between the Nittany Lions and Raiders proved to be a dull back and forth defensive showing up until the remaining three minutes of the first half and the remainder of the second half.
From Penn State’s successful tip-off, the blue and white cemented an early lead over Wright State.
Redshirt freshman and center Mike Watkins led the Nittany Lions defensive surge in the first half with big plays, five rebounds and four blocks. Three minutes into the first half he cemented his dominance when he blocked Steven Davis’ layup and sent the crowd into a roar.
“To be able to have a guy like that to protect the rim is definitely helping our defense,” Penn State head coach Pat Chambers said.
Watkins’ defensive play was not the only motivating Penn State’s formidable scheme; coming off the bench, junior guard Terrence Samuel’s steal midway through the half set-up a monster dunk from sophomore guard Josh Reaves. Reaves’ dunk contributed to their commanding 22-10 lead.
After Samuel’s steal and Reaves momentous dunk, the Raiders’ offense began to infiltrate the blue and white’s defensive scheme when they scored seven unanswered points and eventually tied the game late in the first half.
After a commanding start, Penn State limped into the first half holding on to their 28-26 lead.
“At half-time coach really got on us. He just wanted us to play basketball, Penn State basketball,” sophomore guard Josh Reaves said. “In the second half we just wanted to prove to everybody that we can play Penn State basketball.”
Just like the initial few minutes of the first half, the Nittany Lions started the second half with fire and momentum that rode them into the final minutes of regulation. Instead of a merely a defensive showing, the Nittany Lions made halftime adjustments to balance their play on both sides of the ball.
Lamar Stevens, Shep Garner and Watkins made game-changing plays throughout the second. While junior guard Garner and Watkins maintained their level of play throughout the entire game, freshman forward Stevens ignited their offense and his own play at the onset of the second half.
Stevens came out of the halftime gates with two-straight scores; one modest layup and a momentous dunk. He finished the day with 12 points, while Garner had a game high 17 points. Watkins dominated on both sides of the ball with nine rebounds, eight points and eight blocks; Watkins had a career high 8 blocks.
“I think our team did a really good job of coming out the second half and showed that we were better than what we played in the first half,” Chambers said.
ComRadio’s coverage of the Penn State Men’s Basketball team continues next Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center as they hope to continue their winning ways against the George Mason Patriots.
Madeleine Balestrier is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.
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