Penn State ran away with an 82-66 win over Utah in the NIT championship game at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Lamar Stevens scored 28 points to lead the Nittany Lions, while Tony Carr finished with 15 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. Josh Reaves had 18 points to help Penn State earn its second straight blowout win to capture the title after dominating in a win over Mississippi State in the semifinals Tuesday.
The Nittany Lions finished the year with a 26-13 record. The 26-win season is good for second-most in program history behind the 2009 team. Penn State finished with a 27-11 record that season and also won the NIT championship.
Utah pulled within 43-41 on a layup by Justin Bibbins with 7:43 left in the third, but the Nittany Lions responded to take control.
Penn State went on an 11-2 run, pushing its lead to 54-43. Reaves capped the run with a tough finish as part of a three-point play. The Nittany Lions extended their lead to 63-48 by the end of the third quarter.
Carr gets teammates involved
Carr found his teammates time and time again Thursday during his 14-assist night.
The Penn State point guard recorded six assists in the first quarter. With 5-foot-8 Utah guard Justin Bibbins in front of Stevens on the block, Carr lobbed a pass to his 6-foot-8 teammate for a finish. He also connected with Reaves on a pair of alley oops in the first quarter, including one in the final second to give the Nittany Lions a 21-20 lead.
Carr then finished the third quarter with back-to-back assists to Julian Moore. He bounced up and down after finding Moore for a layup, then dropped off a pass for a dunk by Moore on the final possession of the third quarter.
Harrar continues to impress
John Harrar had his most productive game of the season and sparked the Nittany Lions in the first half. Harrar — who started the last eight games with Mike Watkins out due to injury — finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. He had six points and 10 rebounds in 12 minutes in the first half.
Harrar scored Penn State’s first four points of the game on a pair of layups inside. He had four offensive rebounds in the first two quarters, helping the Nittany Lions outscore Utah 7-0 on second-chance points during that span.
Stevens reaches milestone
Stevens surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career, joining Carr as the second Penn State player to achieve that feat in his sophomore season. Stevens reached 1,000 points on a finish inside with just more than three minutes left in the first quarter.
The forward paced the Nittany Lions in the first half with 14 points, shooting 5 for 7 from the field and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc.
He now has 1,023 career points.