Penn State Dominates Wake Forest 76-54
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After a trip to New York filled with highs and lows, the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-1) returned Wednesday to the Bryce Jordan Center to fend off the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-3) 76-54.
The game was a part of the yearly Big Ten/ACC challenge. The Demon Deacons had history on their side, as they held the all-time record of 12-5 over Penn State going into the game.
But that was about all the Demon Deacons had going for them. Penn State dominated Wake Forest from end-to-end, especially on defense, as the Demon Deacons were held below 60 points for the first time this year.
“I thought our defense set the tone for this game,” Penn State head coach Pat Chambers said. “We defended, we rebounded.”
The most notable defensive performance for the Nittany Lions belonged to senior Mike Watkins, whose impressive night on the boards also made history. Watkins totaled 16 rebounds, 14 of them defensive. One of those 16 was Watkins’ 800th career board.
Along with the rebounds, Watkins also tallied five blocks, one of which came on the first possession of the game. He also recorded three steals, alongside three field goals and a free throw to put him at seven points on the night.
It was all smiles for sophomore guard Myreon Jones when asked about Watkins’ performance.
“Mike is so… unselfish,” Jones said. “He doesn’t care about touches. He’ll do what he’s got to do.”
Jones was also a big contributor to the victory. He dominated on offense with 22 points, with nine of those 22 coming from beyond the perimeter. Jones’ 28 minutes was the most of any Nittany Lion. He also tallied two steals and was perfect on free throws.
After a great performance, Jones was quick to stress the importance of teamwork and how it helped elevate Penn State to such an impressive win.
“I always think me contributing is always important, but I think, ‘I got to get [the team] involved, and get them going too,’” Jones said.
One of the players that got involved was senior Lamar Stevens, who put up 14 total points and three assists. He also gave Watkins some help defensively by leading both teams in steals with four.
Penn State’s crushing defense caused the Demon Deacons struggled on the offensive side. They finished shooting 29.3% as a team and turned the ball over 20 times.
One bright spot in an otherwise dreary night for Wake Forest was junior center Olivier Sarr, who lead the team with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The win was a confidence booster for Penn State. The Nittany Lions went 1-1 in their outing at the Barclays Center, dropping their first game of the season to Ole Miss. They came back with an impressive win against Syracuse, and doubling down with a victory back home will help them set the tone for the season going forward.
This momentum is needed by the Nittany Lions, as they’ll face their toughest opponent yet when they travel to Columbus on Saturday to take on No. 6 Ohio State. The Buckeyes are coming off a big win against the North Carolina Tar Heels, meaning the upcoming game will be a tough test between rivals.
Francesco de Falco is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.