Balanced Lions rout FDU, improve to 2-0

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State pulled contributions from the top of the lineup to the bottom of the roster against Fairleigh Dickinson to tally its second win of the season.

Five players scored over 10 points to lead the Lions to an 81-57 victory on Sunday night in the Bryce Jordan Center.

“It shows our depth,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “It shows that on any given night, someone can help us win a game.”

Sophomore Tony Carr led the team in scoring again with 20 points to go along with seven assists.

Mike Watkins watched from the sideline during Penn State’s preseason exhibitions and season opener due to unspecified off-court issues. Sunday night marked his return to the court.

With Watkins, the Lions had a distinct size advantage over the Knights. Fairleigh Dickinson’s tallest players were capped at 6-foot-8-inches.

Overall, the advantage gave the Lions a 42-26 advantage in rebounds, but height was slow to help the Lions.

The Knights jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes. The Penn State offense turned the ball over in their first three possessions.

The Lions finished the opening half with 12 turnovers. The sloppiness was a byproduct of Watkins absence in preseason games and a few haphazard passes.

The Knights mimicked the Lions’ turnover troubles. Both teams combined for 54 turnovers by the final buzzer.

“It had to be an NCAA record for teams turning it over,” Knights coach Greg Herenda said. “It was hard to coach and probably hard to watch.”

Fairleigh Dickinson was consistent from beyond the arc, nailing their first four 3-point attempts. It took until the midpoint of the first half for the Lions to tie the game, 20-20.

Josh Reaves, who finished with 17 points, was the primary source of productivity for the Lions. Although the junior is best known for his energetic defense, Reaves found the net from all over.

“Reaves is just omnipresent,” Herenda said. “You talk about a stocking stuffer of stats… He might go under the radar because of Carr and (Lamar) Stevens.”

Last year, Reaves was unproductive last year. For the second time this year, he has been the second leading scorer for the Lions. Reaves attributed the success to an offseason dedicated to improving his shot.

Carr best summarized the improvement.

“Offseason grind turns into in-season shine,” said Carr of Reaves turnaround on offense this year.

After tying it up, the Lions took control. Led by Reaves and Lamar Stevens, who recorded 12 points, Penn State went on a 14-2 run in the next seven minutes.

Both teams stalled before the halftime break, featuring more than two minutes without a score from the field. Carr broke the drought with a buzzer-beater from the paint while lying on his back to boost the Lions to a 45-29 halftime lead.

Watkins started to get into a groove following the halftime break. The redshirt sophomore strung together a series of dunk to wake up the crowd. The effort gave the Lions a 23-point lead.

But the Lions offense went into another extended drought following a Watkins dunk. The offense shot converted on only one of their 13 attempts.

Despite the stall, the Knights did little to minimize the lead.

Since shooting wasn’t working for the Lions, dunking became the prefered method of scoring. Five of the Lions’ first seven made shots in the second half came from a dunk.

The Lions finished the game on a 8-0 run to secure the win. Penn State will take on Montana at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (0-2): Holloway 6-12 6-7 19, Bishop 0-3 1-2 1, Williams 3-6 1-2 7, Jenkins 5-11 3-5 14, Edge 1-6 0-0 2, Rhoden 0-0 1-2 1, Morgan 3-4 0-0 7, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Schroback 0-1 0-0 0, McNamara 2-4 0-0 6. Totals 20-47 12-18 57.

PENN ST. (2-0): Watkins 6-9 3-5 15, Stevens 5-11 2-2 12, Carr 5-10 9-9 20, Garner 0-7 0-0 0, Reaves 7-10 1-2 17, Harrar 1-1 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Buttrick 0-0 0-0 0, Zemgulis 1-3 0-0 3, Pierce 0-4 0-1 0, Bostick 5-7 2-3 12, Wheeler 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 30-67 17-22 81.

Halftime–Penn St. 45-29. 3-Point Goals–Fairleigh Dickinson 5-10 (McNamara 2-3, Morgan 1-1, Jenkins 1-2, Holloway 1-2, Edge 0-2), Penn St. 4-16 (Reaves 2-3, Carr 1-2, Zemgulis 1-2, Stevens 0-1, Wheeler 0-2, Garner 0-6). Fouled Out–Bishop, Williams. Rebounds–Fairleigh Dickinson 25 (Bishop 6), Penn St. 39 (Reaves 9). Assists–Fairleigh Dickinson 11 (Jenkins, Williams 4), Penn St. 17 (Carr 7). Total Fouls–Fairleigh Dickinson 21, Penn St. 18. Technicals–Bishop, Pierce. A–5,802 (15,261).

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