Game Grades: Columbia
The Nittany Lions thoroughly dominated the visiting Columbia Lions on both ends of the court, leading them to a 79-65 victory. A red-hot Shep Garner led the way for the Lions with 26 points, his biggest scoring output this season.
Following a quick start by the Nittany Lions, the visiting Columbia team clawed back, cutting the Nittany Lions lead to 38-35 to close the first half. But, Penn State pulled away in the second half and didn’t look back, pushing their record to 4-0 to start the season.
Here are the game grades from Friday’s victory:
The Nittany Lions were missing two key players in this matchup, guards Tony Carr and Josh Reaves due to injury, and their absence was noticeable. In the first half, it was especially apparent that the Lions’ flow seemed to be a bit off without their lead guard. However due to a big advantage athletically, the Lions were able to get into the paint at will, leading to easy baskets. Shep Garner dazzled in the first half scoring 18 (of his 26) points with 12 of them coming from behind the arc. The Lions’ offense stalled out toward the end of the half as the team became cold from deep and relied too heavily on isolation basketball, leading to just 4 assists for the half.
In the second half, the lions regained their mojo, as the team’s offense became much crisper. Penn State ran the pick and roll to near perfection in the second half, creating even more opportunities inside for the team. Also, center Mike Watkins began exploiting the mismatch he had on the low block, Watkins scored all 11 of his points in the second half. The team’s ball movement was better in this half too, as they tallied seven assists. The Lions must play like they did in the second half of this game for the season to be successful.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions came to play, as they created havoc on the perimeter and in the post as well. The Lions were active and engaged defensively throughout, almost every player was able to keep the opposition in front of them with great fundamental defense. Also, quick hands led to the team recording 10 steals. The Lions also recorded seven blocks, as they didn’t give up anything easy, resulting in Columbia shooting 39 percent from the field. The defensive effort by the Nittany Lions resulted in Columbia turning the ball over 20 times, a clear indication of how well the Nittany Lions played on defense.
After, Columbia pulled within three to close the first half, coach Pat Chambers made the necessary adjustments to make sure the game never got that close again. In the second half, the team moved the ball more effectively and were keen on exploiting the huge advantage they had inside. This adjustment was pivotal as it allowed the Nittany Lions to pull away and never look back.
Jerome Taylor is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.