Penn State Basketball

Second half powers Penn State men’s basketball past Binghamton

Penn State’s Shep Garner, seen here last season, finished Tuesday’s game by shooting 5 of 7 from 3. The Nittany Lions beat Binghamton 80-65 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State’s Shep Garner, seen here last season, finished Tuesday’s game by shooting 5 of 7 from 3. The Nittany Lions beat Binghamton 80-65 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Centre Daily Times, file

After a worrisome first half, the Penn State men’s basketball team turned it around to beat Binghamton 80-65 Tuesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

The Nittany Lions led only 39-36 at halftime after a back-and-forth start to the game. The defense played loose initially — the Bearcats had no trouble scoring in the paint — but Penn State tightened up in the second half.

All five starters for the Nittany Lions reached double figures: Lamar Stevens (16), Tony Carr (15), Josh Reaves (15), Shep Garner (15) and Mike Watkins (12). Watkins also recorded 11 rebounds for the double-double.

Penn State improved to 10-3 on the season with the win, while Binghamton fell to 8-5.

Turning point

First minute of the second half: Reaves got the Nittany Lions started off on the right foot with a jumpshot. Watkins then came away with a steal, which led to a 3-pointer by Garner. That gave Penn State a 44-36 lead. For the next 12 minutes, every one of Binghamton’s field goals was answered by Penn State. The Bearcats never scored back-to-back. Thanks to that early scoring spurt, the Nittany Lions led by at least five the rest of the way.

Lights out

Shooting: The Nittany Lions finished the game by making 57.4 percent of their shots from the field. And there was plenty of credit to go around. Garner was 5 of 7 from 3, Reaves finished 6 of 9, Watkins was 5 of 8, and Carr was 6 of 12. The only starter to finish below 50 percent was Stevens, who still was 6 of 14 with eight rebounds. The defense might’ve been an issue in the first half, but offense was never a big problem.

Next up

Penn State vs. Rider, 7 p.m. Friday: The Nittany Lions will host the Rider Broncs, a 6-5 team out of the MAAC. It will be their second-to-last home game of the year. PSU will host Coppin State on Dec. 30.

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