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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Beat Grand Canyon 85-76

by on November 15, 2016 10:49 PM

Penn State basketball improved to 2-1 on the year with a victory over Grand Canyon on Tuesday night. Here is what you need to know about the Nittany Lions' latest game.

How It Happened:

Penn State and Grand Canyon traded early baskets in an offensive first half as both teams shot over 45-percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. For the visitors it was largely Joshua Braun who scored 16 first half points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc as Penn State got scoring from eight different players led by Shep Garner's effective 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting. The Nittany Lions excelled in transition all night and picked up 14 second chance points as Lamar Stevens grabbed two of Penn State's eight offensive boards in the half.

A cold start to the final 20 minutes of play kept things close before a 15-4 run midway through the half helped open up the game. Penn State would lead by as many as 12 before a late surge made things interesting. Free throws down the stretch sealed the deal, the Nittany Lions going 13-of-16 from the charity stripe.

All told Lamar Stevens would lead the way with 19 points while Payton Banks , Tony Carr and Shep Garner would follow suit with 15, 10 and 14 points respectively. Mike Watkins continued to impress on both ends of the floor with three blocks and nine points while grabbing six rebounds. Julian Moore had three put-back slams and picked up nine rebounds and two blocks of his own. Nazeer Bostick had seven points in his debut.

It Was Over When:

At the 15:29 mark it was two free throws by Lamar Stevens that helped spark a 15-4 run over 4:48 that turned a 50-48 GCU lead into a 63-54 Penn State margin. The Nittany Lions would lead for just over 31 minutes of the game, but it was that run midway through the second half that helped push Penn State out far enough in front to keep the visitors out of reach. The Nittany Lions would lead by as many as 12 in the final minutes before a few big shots cut it down to just six with 1:41 remanning. GCS would get no closer than five with 42 seconds remaining but free throws by Carr and Banks closed the door on the late comeback. All told though it was that mid half run that changed the dynamic of a game that saw 10 lead changes.

Player Of The Game:

For the second straight game it's hard to argue that anyone has been more impressive in the early going than Lamar Stevens. His 19 points and five rebounds paced Penn State in a rebound happy affair. Mike Watkins led the way with his six boards but Stevens' hustle and effective 5-for-5 shooting at the line was a solid outing for the freshman. Payton Banks gets an honorable mention here and could have gotten the nod in his own right with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting with some key makes from deep.

Stat Of The Game:

For the second straight game Penn State recorded 20 assists. It's the first time since 2006-07 Penn State has had 20+ in back-to-back contests.

Terrence Samuel led the way with seven to his name while Tony Carr picked up six more at the point. All told the 20 assists came on 32 made buckets Tuesday night as Penn State shot 46-percent from the field and scored 15 fast break points.

Next Up:

Penn State heads to Connecticut for a neutral site meeting against No. 1 ranked Duke. The Nittany Lions and Blue Devils will tip at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.  

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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