PSU defeats George Washington
WASHINGTON (AP) — Penn State’s youth movement is starting to pay dividends.
Redshirt freshman Mike Watkins scored a career-high 20 points and added eight rebounds and four blocks to lead the Nittany Lions to a 74-68 victory at George Washington on Saturday.
Fellow freshman Lamar Stevens had 18 points for Penn State (4-3), which erased a nine-point halftime deficit. Freshman Tony Carr had 12 points.
“We’re a little bit on the roller-coaster ride, but I felt like they were prepared and ready to play tonight,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “I haven’t been real happy with the way they’ve been playing, but their focus was different and their approach was different and we really saw that in the second half.”
George Washington committed 15 turnovers, leading to 14 Penn State points. It also struggled from the perimeter, shooting 5 of 24 on its 3-point attempts.
The Colonials (3-3) played without junior guard Yuta Watanabe, who sat out with a lower leg injury suffered in practice. Watanabe’s 13.4 points per game rank second on the team.
“I don’t think it’s anything long-term, hopefully, but we can’t use that as an excuse and use that as a crutch,” George Washington interim coach Maurice Joseph said.
Senior forward Tyler Cavanaugh had 15 points, all in the second half, for George Washington. Cavanaugh, who averages 18.8 points, picked up two fouls and was limited to eight minutes in the first half.
The Nittany Lions have won two in a row since dropping back-to-back games to Duke and Cincinnati in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. Penn State shot 50 percent in the second half while outrebounding the Colonials 21-16 after the break.
“We picked it up the last 20 minutes, which was great to see,” Chambers said. “We saw glimpses of who we can be.”
Penn State: The Nittany Lions climbed above .500 with a victory in their first true road game of the season while avenging a 76-66 loss at George Washington last season.
George Washington: After a promising start, the Colonials have dropped three in a row after falling to Georgia and UAB in the CBE Classic earlier in the week.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
George Washington’s 27-game nonconference home winning streak ended with the loss. The Colonials’ previous nonleague setback at Smith Center was a 65-62 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 8, 2012.
Penn State opened the second half on a 15-2 run, taking the lead for good on junior Payton Banks’ 3-pointer with 15:52 to play.
Penn State sophomore Davis Zemgulis suffered a sprained ankle late in the first half and did not return. “That’s going to hurt us because he’s been giving us really quality minutes,” Chambers said. “He made another 3 tonight and it’s just a matter of time for him to break out.” Zemgulis has played in every game this season.
Penn State plays host to Georgia Tech on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Nittany Lions have won games in the event the last two years.
George Washington looks for its first victory away from home this season when it visits Harvard on Tuesday.