Penn State Basketball

Lamar Stevens’ dunk excites team as Penn State men’s basketball beats Wright State

For the CDT, file

In the first 85 seconds of the second half, Penn State rebuilt the lead it squandered late in the first half.

Lamar Stevens started the run with a finish inside and followed it up with an emphatic two-handed dunk over a Wright State defender, bringing his teammates on the bench to their feet. They rose in anticipation on Penn State’s next possession as Shep Garner released a wide-open 3-pointer.

Garner drilled it and a pair of Mike Watkins free throws extended the lead to 12 points — matching the Nittany Lions’ largest lead of the first half. Penn State pushed that lead to as many as 27 on its way to a 72-50 win over the Raiders on Saturday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State led 29-26 at halftime before opening the second half on a 13-0 run to put the game away. Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers talked to his team about taking care of the ball after committing 10 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

“But I also asked for passion and juice and fire,” Chambers said. “We seemed like we were a little down on ourselves because we had 10 turnovers, because we gave up 15 to a really good basketball player (Mark Alstork).

“And they came out inspired and played great basketball.”

Garner (17 points), Payton Banks (15), Josh Reaves (12) and Stevens (12) each finished in double figures for the Nittany Lions (6-3) in their fourth straight win.

Watkins finished with eight points, eight blocks and nine rebounds, and Tony Carr led Penn State with 12 rebounds and five assists.

Penn State limited Wright State (6-3) to 24.2 percent shooting.

“We had a lot of opportunities once we drove to make good decisions and pass the ball and a lot of times we just didn’t,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy said. “We just tried to score on guys that we probably shouldn’t have been trying to score on.

“I’ve been coaching a long time. I’m in my 22nd year and I’m pretty sure that’s the worst offensive output that I’ve ever seen.”

Wright State started 2 for 20 from the field as Penn State took a 22-10 lead in the first half.

Alstork, who scored all 15 of his points in the first half, accounted for both field goals — a pair of 3-pointers. Penn State was outscoring Wright State 12-0 on points in the paint and 9-0 on fast-break points.

The Raiders then hit a jumper in transition for their first fast-break bucket and finished a drive in the paint during a 7-0 run to get back into the game.

Wright State tied it 26-26 on a pair of free throws by Alstork with 1:20 left in the half, closing the gap as Penn State got sloppy offensively with seven turnovers in a span of less than five minutes.

Chambers got on his team at halftime, and the Nittany Lions responded.

“He just wanted us to play basketball, Penn State basketball and just get back to that,” Reaves said. “First half we didn’t really play that as much as we should have.

“Second half, we just came out and we wanted to prove to everybody that we can play Penn State basketball for a whole half.”

Notes: Penn State hosts George Mason at 7 p.m. Wednesday. ... Davis Zemgulis missed his second straight game due to a sprained ankle. Chambers said Zemgulis should be ready to play Wednesday.

Ryne Gery: 814-231-4679, @rgery