Penn State Downs Temple, Advances in NIT

Story posted March 15, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Tom Shively

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Josh Reaves finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Nazeer Bostick added 12 points as the fourth-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions took down the fifth-seeded Temple Owls, 63-57, on Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.

On a night when Penn State’s usual suspects had quiet nights on the offensive end (Big Ten leading scorer Tony Carr finished with two points), unlikely heroes like Bostick, senior forward Julian Moore and, most importantly, Reaves emerged to carry the load on the offensive end.

“Josh played a great game to get a double-double, he really willed us at the end the most,” Penn State head coach Pat Chambers said.

The Nittany Lions got off to a slow start, only managing 21 points in the first half, due in large part to poor shooting as a team and foul trouble for Lamar Stevens. The sophomore played only four minutes in the half.

“It’s been a long time since Lamar’s been in foul trouble, we’ve been very fortunate that he’s been in most of the games,” Chambers said. “I think that threw us off a little bit.”

The second half was a much different story, as Stevens returned to the game with a vengeance. He reached the foul line 11 times in the third quarter, turning that into eight points.

The Nittany Lions were finally able to take the lead with 1:38 to go in the game on a layup from John Harrar, part of a 12-0 Penn State run that all but put the game away. A couple of key threes from Garner and another from Reaves helped Penn State both claw back into the game and pad its lead.

The Nittany Lions overcame an 11-point deficit, their largest comeback of the season. The two seniors, Moore and Shep Garner, both came on strong late to make sure that tonight wouldn’t be their final game wearing the blue and white.

“I didn’t want it to be my last game, I definitely wanted to come out here and win,” Garner said. “It came down to who wanted it more: us or them. We made the plays down the stretch to win the game.”

The onset of the NIT means a few experimental rule changes as well, as four rule changes have been implemented for this tournament.

The 3-point line is moved back to match the FIBA distance, about one foot-eight inches beyond the traditional college line. The shot clock also resets to 20 instead of 30 on an offensive rebound and the lane was widened from 12 feet to 16 feet, all rules based off changes made in the NBA. Perhaps the most notable change is the switch from halves to quarters, as games in the NIT are being played in 10-minute quarters, replicating the current format of the NCAA women’s game.

The rule changes weren’t all positive, as Temple head coach Fran Dunphy thought the deeper three-point line affected his team’s shooting percentage.

“I thought the three-point line made a difference today,” Dunphy said. “We shot 4-for-18 and I thought we would have shot better if we were a little bit closer. But that’s the nature of the game.”

Rules tested in the NIT have been implemented across college basketball in the past, as both the 30-second shot clock and the wider restricted area in the paint originated in the NIT.

The Penn State season extends at least one more game, as the Nittany Lions will take on No. 1 seed Notre Dame on the road in the NIT second round on Saturday at noon. Notre Dame spent time in the top five of the AP poll but fell victim to the injury bug and was part of the NCAA Selection Committee’s “First Four Out” on Selection Sunday.

Tom Shively is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email shivelyt97@gmail.com.