Penn State men turn back Canisius in ‘Return to Rec’ game
UNIVERSITY PARK (AP) – Penn State’s guards knew if they couldn’t drive the ball inside with their legs, they could pinpoint passes for their big men to do all the damage.
Both strategies were effective in an 81-67 win over Canisius on Thursday night.
The Nittany Lions’ top three forwards combined for 43 points while their guards swooped in for layups and slam dunks in Penn State’s first game in inside Rec Hall since 1996.
Brandon Taylor scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute to help Penn State (6-3) pad its lead in a game the Nittany Lions never trailed.
Julian Moore scored 14 points and Payton Banks and Shep Garner each added 11 points for Penn State. The Nittany Lions scored their first 12 points in the paint where they preferred to move the ball against Canisius’ smaller forwards.
Meanwhile, the Golden Griffins (3-5) struggled to get their offense going.
“We started big,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “I felt we had to pound the ball inside and we did that.”
Canisius made just 8 of 30 field goals in the first half and missed wildly at times from 3-point range, making just 3 of 15 outside shots in the first half when Penn State clogged the paint.
“That was a big difference,” Canisius coach Jim Baron said. “They got size, they got strength and they kind of wore us down inside.”
Phil Valenti led Canisius with 24 points, scoring 18 in the second half. Valenti scored 12 during a 14-6 run that cut into Penn State’s 40-25 halftime lead. But Garner and Moore pulled Penn State out of its early second-half shooting slump with timely points down low.
Both players attacked inside where Penn State finished with 50 points in the paint to Canisius’ 28.
As a result, Penn State made just 3 of 12 3-pointers. Banks made the final one with 5:30 to play then made a layup that gave Penn State a 68-54 lead and put the game out of reach.
The Golden Griffins pulled within nine twice in the final 10 minutes but couldn’t get any closer
Canisius: The Golden Griffins couldn’t take advantage of a strong rebounding performance. Canisius pulled down 18 offensive rebounds but shot just 33.8 percent from the floor.
Penn State: Taylor and Garner scored in double figures for the seventh time each this season.
When Taylor, Banks and Moore weren’t outmuscling Canisius forwards in the paint, Josh Reaves used his quickness to beat defenders to the basket. Reaves finished with eight of Penn State’s 32 bench points and scored six on slam dunks despite nursing a sore hip. He finished with a team-high seven assists.
“He played with energy,” Taylor said. “He kept us energized. Those dunks, they give us all the energy and it gives him energy and makes him play hard. When we see him playing harder, we play harder.”
Chambers wasn’t happy with his team’s sloppy play for large portions, notably 21 turnovers spread almost evenly across both halves.
“It was a little bit ugly,” Chambers said. “We’ve got some things to clean up.”
But that cleanup period likely will occur in Penn State’s next game. Chambers said he’d prefer to let his players enjoy the program’s first Rec Hall win in nearly two decades before playing a second game at the old venue on Saturday.
Canisius visits Kent State on Saturday.
Penn State hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.