Penn State vs. Colorado State Preview: Charleston Classic Third Place Game
Following an unbeaten start to the regular season, Penn State dropped its first game of the season in the Charleston Classic semifinals to Virginia Tech, 61-59.
The Nittany Lions will now face Colorado State in the third-place game on Sunday.
Despite the loss, head coach Micah Shrewsberry's squad continues to establish their identity, shooting the three-pointer, and he won’t shy away from it even as teams adjust.
“Nope, threes more than two,” Shrewsberry said following an earlier win over Loyola-Maryland. “We got dudes that can really shoot, like really shoot. A bunch of them, not just one. If people want to leave us open, we're going to shoot as many as possible.”
Penn State possesses one of the top three-point shooting attacks in the country, averaging a nation-high 13.2 per game and shooting at a rate of 44.3 percent. It has double-digit triples in every game this season, including 11 on Friday.
Trailing by as much as 16 against Virginia Tech, senior sharpshooter Myles Dread provided a huge boost off the bench, finishing 5-for-11 from beyond the arc for a season-high 15 points.
Dread wasn’t the only feeling it from deep. Bucknell transfer Andrew Funk had 21 points, his second 20-point performance of the season.
One reason for concern for the Nittany Lions was the struggles of prolific scorer Seth Lundy and facilitator Jalen Pickett.
Lundy ended with five points with nine rebounds and went 1-of-5 from the floor, he is averaging 10.8 points per game through the first five games.
Meanwhile, Pickett headlines the blue and white in scoring, with 14.4 points per game, and leads the country with 42 total assists. He dished out eight assists against the Hokies but was 4-for-10 on the day for nine points.
Those two are eyeing a rebound come Sunday night, as both are lethal when they’re on.
Switching gears to Colorado State out of the Mountain West, similar to Penn State, it is also coming off its first loss in the semifinals to hosts College of Charleston, 74-64.
The Cougars had a well-balanced attack that saw five players notch 10 or more points in the victory.
It will be another tough matchup, as a year ago, under the guidance of Niko Medved, the Rams finished 25-6 and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
In the first game of the Charleston Classic, Medved’s team dismantled South Carolina, 85-53, but the same success was not seen against Charleston, as there was a significant scoring dropoff.
Colorado State boasts four double-digit scorers, John Tonje, 13.4 points per game, Isaiah Rivera, 12.2, Patrick Cartier, 10.6, and John Moors, 10.
However, all of them, except for Rivera, failed to reach that double-digit threshold, with the junior guard finishing with 15 points and five assists.
The Rams shot 45 percent from the floor, but couldn’t find any rhythm from deep, shooting 8-for-32.
A key cog for Colorado State will be the play of Tonje, who has improved steadily every year and has shown that this year.
The senior guard can score inside and outside, which will be a challenge for the Nittany Lions.
Expect Tonje to draw the attention of either Lundy or Pickett, who will both have some extra fire inside them to spearhead a Penn State defense that has held their opponents to under 70 points in every game this year.
Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. on ESPNU, as both sides will look to get their stars going and bounce back from their first loss of the season.
Matt Scalzo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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