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Garner, Watkins Lead Penn State Men's Hoops Past Wright State

by on December 03, 2016 7:30 PM

Penn State (6-3) extended its winning streak to four games Saturday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center, downing Wright State 72-50 thanks to a strong second half performance.

How It Happened

Shep Garner knocked down a transition three on Penn State’s second possession of the game to open the scoring. It was a three-point shooting contest early with seven of the first 10 combined shots from both teams coming from deep. Penn State led at the first time out of the game, 7-3, with threes from Garner and Payton Banks.

The Nittany Lions forced a couple early turnovers thanks to the 1-2-2 press defense they ran after a made foul shot. The steals came from jumping the deep cross-court passes from the Raiders and sprung Penn State on the fast break. Wright State went on a 7:49 span without a made field goal, going 0-11 during the drought.

The Raiders turned things around with a 7-0 run to cut the Nittany Lion lead to five before Garner hit a three from the top of the key. Penn State was balanced in terms of scoring, with six players getting on the board in the first half, led by Banks’ nine points. The Nittany Lions also had balance with where they scored in the first half, netting 14 points in the paint, nine from range, and six from the line.

The Pat Chambers staple of wanting his team to run the floor paid off in the first half with Penn State outscoring Wright State 9-2 in fast-break points. Penn State also outscored Wright State in points in the paint, 14-6, despite no scoring from Mike Watkins or Julian Moore. The Nittany Lions showed they could get to the rim against the Raiders, but didn’t finish at a high clip, shooting 34 percent from the floor in the first.

Penn State started the second half strong with a 13-0 run in the first three minutes. Stevens scored the first four points in the half, including this nice dunk in traffic.



Penn State took control of the game early in the second half. It started to finally knock down shots, and took control on the defensive end. Mike Watkins’ presence at the rim was off the charts, recording eight blocks, a new career high for the Philadelphia native. The Nittany Lions opened it up to a 20-point lead thanks to two free throws from Josh Reaves with nine minutes left in the game.

The Nittany Lions’ balanced scoring continued in the second half with four players finishing in double figures, led by Garner’s 17 points. The second half wasn’t much of a contest with Penn State outscoring Wright State 43-24 in the half. The Nittany Lions continued to push the tempo, and it worked against the Raiders as they came away with the 72-50 victory.

Player Of The Game

Mike Watkins | Freshman | Forward

The redshirt freshman finished with a near triple-double, tallying eight points, nine rebounds, and a career-high eight blocks. Watkins also had a steal and finished the game 6-for-6 from the line. Watkins is the Big Ten leader in blocked shots and is sixth in the country in blocks per game.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions stay home for their next non-conference tilt on December 7 with George Mason coming to town. Tip-off at the Bryce Jordan Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Dylan Coughlin is a writer for Onward State.
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