Penn State men’s basketball tops Jacksonville State

Story posted November 12, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Tyler Olson

Penn State moved to 2-0 after a strong second half against Jacksonville State that propelled the Nittany Lions
to a 76-61 win.

Jacksonville State struck first with a 3-pointer from senior forward Jason Burnell, who went on to
score the first eight points for the Gamecocks. Tight defense in the paint also kept Penn State away from
the rim and produced some early turnovers, one of which turned into a layup from Burnell going the other
way to give the Gamecocks a 13-12 lead with 13:30 remaining in the first half.

Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers said he believed his team would be able to beat Jacksonville
State on the perimeter.

“The way they play is they pack it in and they force you to shoot jump shots,” Chambers said. “I was pretty
comfortable doing that with the amount of shooters that we have on the floor.”

The Gamecocks eventually extended their lead to 18-14 just after the 10 minute mark, but then the
shots started to fall for Penn State. Consecutive 3-pointers from Penn State freshman guard Rasir
Bolton and sophomore forward Trent Buttrick tied the game up at 20 with 7:30 remaining and sparked
Penn State for the rest of the half.

The Nittany Lions finished the first half shooting 39.4 percent and 6 for 10 from the charity stripe,
while out-rebounding the Gamecocks 21-16. Penn State also committed just one turnover after the first
seven minutes to finish the half with three total while the Gamecocks surrendered the ball eight times
in the first 20 minutes.

Buttrick also put together a nice first half on the boards with four rebounds to go with his three. He was
a strong presence in the paint when senior forward John Harrar was out of the game, a role that’s
become doubly important with the absence of Mike Watkins due to his continued off-the-court issues.

The half ended with Penn State up 37-32.

A flurry of scoring for Jacksonville State early in the second half, including seven unanswered points in
just over two minutes, brought the Penn State lead down to 42-41 with 16:44 remaining. The mood was
tense in the Bryce Jordan Center, and it seemed like the Gamecocks were about to make it a game.
Then a layup from freshman guard Myles Dread and a 3-pointer from Bolton electrified the Legion of Blue
student section and extended Penn State’s lead to 47-41.

Both teams traded blows for the next few minutes before Lamar Stevens drew a foul on a layup in traffic
with 8:24 remaining. He made the free throw, giving Penn State an 11 point lead.

The Nittany Lions didn’t look back. A made 3 from senior guard Josh Reaves with just over three
minutes left made the score 66-55 and essentially sealed the game with Jacksonville State at eight team
fouls and with just one timeout.

Chambers said he doesn’t think Penn State’s clutch play down the stretch was a coincidence.

“I think last year’s past successes and wins have really taught this group how to win, how to find
success,” he said. “I think that’s what you saw in the last five minutes.”

Stevens and Bolton each dropped 25 for the Nittany Lions on a night Penn State’s young talent and
veteran leader lifted the team to victory.

“It’s big time,” Stevens said of the freshman’s play in just his second collegiate contest. “I think since the
offseason and preseason I’ve been telling everybody about how good these freshmen are and how good
Rasir really is . . . When he got here, I knew he could play and he worked really hard so be deserves
moments like this.”

Penn State will play two games in Cancun, Mexico over Thanksgiving break, marking its first ever trip to
Mexico and its first foray out of the continental United States since it played in Puerto Rico during the
2012-13 season.

 

 

Tyler Olson is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. To contact him, email
tso5043@psu.edu.