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Penn State Basketball: Return To Rec Showcases 81-67 Nittany Lion Victory

by on December 10, 2015 9:30 PM

"It's nice to finally get a win in Rec Hall," Pat Chambers said Thursday night.

The last time Penn State did this it didn't go so well.

In fact a 20-point lead evaporated in front of a packed Rec Hall crowd and turned a celebratory outing into an overtime 81-79 loss to Princeton.

There were some who questioned if Penn State would ever make the so called Return to Rec ever again. Heartbreak and special occasions rarely look to be repeated. If anything it was an experiment in trying new things, and some failed experiments never need to be tried again.

But Penn State made its first of two returns to the old venue on Thursday night and didn't let the ghosts of Rec Hall's past show their face. In 2013 Princeton scored 81 points, on Thursday Penn State matched that total in a more convincing 81-67 victory over Canisius that ended with far more high fives and smiles than the last go round.

For the most part it started that way too, Penn State opened a 8-0 lead to start the game and never really looked back. The Nittany Lions exploited their size in the paint for 26 points in a 40 point opening half. Penn State shot 64% from the field and had five players score five or more points in the frame. Brandon Taylor paced the offensive side of the ball with eight points while Julian Moore chipped in seven more. The Nittany Lions finished the half with 10 assists a total that eclipsed several complete game totals for Penn State.

Aside from the opening eight minutes or so of a turnover happy second half, Penn State never really felt threatened. The Nittany Lions led by single digits on a few occasions but answered each push with timely shot making and free throws. With six more assists to bring the game total it 16, it was the 21 turnovers that will undoubtedly be the focus of film sessions come Friday morning.

Josh Reaves had an outstanding evening with eight points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to go with four more steals. 

By the game's end Penn State had registered 50 points in the paint, 16 on the fast break and 12 second chance points. The Nittany Lions gave up 18 offensive rebounds and turned the ball over 21 times in an uncharacteristically sloppy outing for an otherwise ball-safe squad.

Brandon Taylor went 12-of-15 from the line for 18 points while Payton Banks and Shep Garner each poured in 11. Julian Moore was an effective 6-of-6 from the strip and finished with 14 points on 4-of-5 from the field.

But most importantly, it went right on Thursday. And even if they won't admit it, that's a nice feeling.

"I don't even think about the Princeton game anymore," Taylor said after the game, a smile creeping out the corner of his mouth.

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