Penn State Comes Back to Defeat ULM at Rec Hall
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Sparked by an energized Rec Hall crowd, Penn State surged to a 54-50 victory over the University of Louisiana at Monroe Saturday afternoon.
“They gutted it out. I believe that is a gutsy win for us that typically we don’t win in the past,” said Penn State coach Pat Chambers. “This group is connected, they like each other, and they hung in there.”
Brandon Taylor led the charge for the Nittany Lions (7-3) with 16 points and seven rebounds. Payton Banks chipped in with 10 points and four rebounds while Josh Reaves added nine points, five rebounds, and three blocks.
“It’s a great feeling to pull games out like that. That’s something coach [Chambers] preaches everyday, defend and rebound,” Taylor said. “When shots aren’t falling, you toughen up on defense and do the little things, and that’s what we did today.”
After starting out the first half on fire from the floor, the Warhawks (4-4) went cold for the rest of the game as they were led by Travis Munnings, who recorded a career-high 22 points.
Louisiana-Monroe started the game shooting 50 percent from the field, but a late first half scoring drought of over four minutes opened the door for the Nittany Lions to take the lead, as they went in front 21-20.
Penn State closed out the first half on a 10-4 run to take a 25-24 lead into the locker room, despite just shooting 26 percent from the field. Both teams struggled to pull away from each other in the first half, as the largest lead for either team was five.
It appeared that early on, tired legs were plaguing the Nittany Lions, who were playing in their fourth game in eight days.
“If you look at the statistics, you could tell we had some tired legs out there … these next three days are critical for these guys to really get away, get out of the gym and get some rest,” Chambers added.
The Warhwks came out and delivered the first punch in the second half, taking a 33-27 lead thanks to a 9-2 run in the first five minutes.
After controlling the lead for most of the second half, Shep Garner’s steal and layup energized the crowd and cut the Warhawk lead to two with 8:40 left. After a turnover under the basket for the Warhawks, Reaves lobbed a pass to Jordan Dickerson, who slammed it home to tie the game at 37.
Dickerson finished the game with six points, five rebounds, and an impressive seven blocks. Chambers was very proud of Dickerson’s effort and thinks he can really set the tone for this team if he continues to have nights like tonight.
“He’s an anchor. He did a lot of good things out there,” said Chambers. “He’s the mother hen out there; he’s protecting everybody. He’s a great enforcer in there. He was ready to play.”
A Roberson jumper on the next possession ended a scoring drought, which spanned over four minutes, to take a two-point Warhawk lead, which was quickly answered by a Reaves layup. Shep Garner drove down the lane, finished the layup while being fouled and completed the three-point play to give the Nittany Lions a two-point advantage.
A few minutes later, Garner drove into the lane and threw up a wild shot while being fouled that somehow found its way in the net. The ensuing foul shot gave Penn State its biggest lead of the afternoon at six with 2:08 to play.
The Nittany Lions dominated the paint, tallying 12 total blocks, led by Dickerson’s seven. Penn State shot 33 percent from the field for the game compared to ULM’s 34 percent, but the Nittany Lions were just just 3-20 from behind the arc.
Up by two with 22 seconds left, Taylor hit both free throws to make it a two-possession game and ice the victory for the Nittany Lions.
After the game, Reaves credits the Rec Hall crowd for giving himself and the team the energy to push through this game and come out on top.
“It gives me energy,” Reaves said. “They always talk about how my energy filters out throughout the whole team, but I feel like I get my energy from them [fans] and everybody just watching and how they excited they were with all of the signs, all of the chants and all of the cheering. It fuels me to just give it my all out there.”
Ryan Hickey is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To reach him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism