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Nov. 17, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s basketball team moved to 4-0 on the season with a 79-65 win over Columbia at the Bryce Jordan Center with senior guard Shep Garner scoring a game-high 26 points to lead the Nittany Lions.
Paying homage to the institution’s original school colors, Penn State also remained undefeated in its black and pink alternative uniforms at 5-0.
Penn State, playing its fourth game in the opening eight days of the season, was without the services of two starters, Tony Carr and Josh Reaves, who both missed the game with injuries.
Garner, who also was banged up in Wednesday night’s game against Montana, was still recognizable in a protective face mask, as were his shooting skills. Garner tied his career high with 10 field goals and had his most points since a 26-point outing vs.
“I’m really proud of my team,” said Nittany Lion basketball coach Patrick Chambers. “With all the obstacles and challenges that we have faced in the last 48 hours, and the way those kids came out and competed after the Montana game with a quick turnaround, was just fun to watch. It was fun to be a part of. With us to be out with two starters showed what type of team we can be with the bench depth that we have.”
In a game of runs, the Nittany Lions would take a double-figure lead only to have Columbia end a scoring drought with a flurry of points. In the first half, a nearly seven-minute spell allowed Penn State to go from a point down at 8-7 to a 22-8 lead to hold a 10-point advantage with 2:22 left before the break.
While three of Penn State’s starters, Nazeer Bostick, Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, were relegated to the bench with two fouls each, six of eight points in a two-minute span came from Jaron Faulds. Then Gabe Stefanini pulled Columbia within three as his trey fell through the bottom of the net as time ran out in the half.
Penn State dominated in the minutes following the break as it leaned on Watkins and his 10 points as he went 5-5 and had four of his six blocks in the second period. Watkins recorded his ninth career double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. He took sole possession of the number-six spot on Penn State’s career list for blocks with 103, passing both Carvin Jefferson (99) and Donovan Jack (100).
Numerous Nittany Lions stepped up with contributions in the victory. Over a stretch of three minutes in the second half, four different Penn State players scored and Watkins added a dunk and another layup for the largest lead at 19. Freshman guard Jamar Wheeler played a career-high 36 minutes with bests in points (7), assists (4) and steals (3). Satchel Pierce hit seven free throws, a career high, and had 11 points off the bench.
Overall Penn State collected 10 steals and forced Columbia into 20 turnovers and the Nittany Lions held Columbia to 19 three-point field goal attempts. Columbia had averaged 31.5 attempts per game, including a mark of 39 against its last opponent.
The Nittany Lions travel to New York for two Legends Classic games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. and meet Pittsburgh on Monday, Nov. 20 in the 9:30 p.m. game on ESPN3.
Keep up to date with the latest information from Coach Patrick Chambers and the Nittany Lions on Twitter by following @Coach_Chambers and @PennStateMBB, liking the team’s page on Facebook and following the team Instagram account at @PennStateMBB.