Lamar Stevens let his follow-through hang in the air after draining another 3-pointer.
Maryland forward L.G. Gill was stationed near the lane during Tuesday night’s game as Stevens received a short pass on the left wing, giving the Penn State freshman plenty of room to fire. Stevens let it fly and swished the long-range attempt early in the first half.
The 6-foot-7 forward went on to do most of his damage with his midrange jumper, but the sequence provided the latest glimpse of a developing weapon in his game.
Stevens has knocked down 3-pointers in each of the last three games after going a combined 0 for 4 in the first 22 games of the season.
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“I’ve been trying to add it, I’ve been working on it a lot,” Stevens said after his team’s win over the No. 21 Terrapins. “I consider myself a shooter now.”
Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said he doesn’t want Stevens “fading out to 3 just to shoot 3s,” but if he’s open, the coach has given him the green light. Stevens has gone 4 for 8 from beyond the arc during his three-game streak heading into Penn State’s game at Illinois (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Chambers said the freshman has put in the time in the gym to develop his long-range shot, and finally, he’s starting to make it.
“You got to put the work in,” Chambers said during Friday’s teleconference. “If you want me to give you that license to shoot 3s, then you got to put the work in, and he’s earned that right.”
The Nittany Lions (13-12, 5-7) have been at their best when Stevens leads the way offensively. He scored a game-high 18 points in the team’s win over Michigan State in January and poured in a game-high 25 points in the win over Maryland.
“They were giving me the ball and just trusting me to shoot my shots and just always remain confident and just play my game,” Stevens said Tuesday night.
Stevens’ game is built around his midrange jumper and his ability to get to the rim.
His 3-point shot didn’t fall early in the season.
The freshman went 0 for 4 from beyond the arc during a three-game stretch in November before going 18 straight games without attempting a 3-pointer.
He hit the first 3-pointer of his college career against Indiana on Feb. 1 — his first long-range attempt since the team’s game against Duke in the fourth game of the season.
Shep Garner zipped a pass from the top of the key to Stevens in the right corner.
He was open. And he drilled it.
“He’s really diversified his game,” Chambers said. “But he’s worked on it.”
Notes: Illinois is coming off a 68-61 win over Northwestern on Tuesday, snapping a three-game losing streak. ... Penn State beat Illinois 71-67 on Jan. 28. Garner had 18 points and Payton Banks added 17. Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 19 points and seven assists. ... The Nittany Lions now have a 10-0 record when they hold opposing team under 70 points.
Penn State at Illinois
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Ill.
Radio: WQWK 1450