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Penn State 76, Colgate 65: That Was Not a Tasty Cupcake

The game was much closer than the final score shows. Too close, really.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a pair of difficult losses to open Big Ten play and sporting a .500 overall record at 4-4, an opponent like Colgate could not have come at a better time. Utilizing solid defense, hot three-point shooting from Rasir Bolton (who nailed his first four attempts from downtown), and a dominant performance down low by Mike Watkins (who had eight rebounds in the first half alone), the Nittany Lions jumped out to a dominant lead early on and led by as many as 19 in the first half, before Colgate whittled the deficit down to 11 right before the half.

The second half opened with Josh Reaves stealing the ball and throwing down a one-handed slam, and it seemed like PSU had the spark it needed to blow this game wide open and cruise to a comfortable win. Colgate had other plans though, as a flurry of three-point shooting, as well as a cold stretch and silly turnovers from PSU allowed Colgate to gradually whittle the lead below double digits, eventually getting the PSU lead down to as little as three points, causing worry to those in attendance and triggering PTSD of lifelong PSU hoops fans who have seen this team invent creative ways to lose.

Such was not the case today though, with PSU clinging to a 65-62 with 2:24 left, Mike Watkins calmly nailed two free throws, then followed it up with a layup on PSU’s next possession. Josh Reaves provided the dagger by nailing a three-pointer with one minute to play, putting PSU back up by double digits.

Four Factor Analysis

Offensive rebounding (PSU held a 14-2 advantage) and free throws (PSU was 16-for-19 from the line compared to Colgate’s 5-for-8) were the difference-makers for the Nittany Lions. The 16 turnovers helped to allow Colgate to keep this one close for the most of the game.

Players Of The Game

We’ve touched upon Bolton’s shooting before, but 7-for-9 is just plain outstanding (more on him, in “Random Observations”). Watkins had a double-double and was just plain abusive when it came to crashing the boards, utilizing his height advantage to the fullest. It would’ve been nice to see him get more than just two blocks, but I’m not going to nitpick that much. Lamar once again had a double-double with the exact same points/rebounds he had against Indiana, despite a slow start to the game (he only had six points at halftime).

Random Observations

  • Shooters Gonna Shoot - Rasir Bolton’s shot selection has been questionable at times, but he is clearly a kid who has all the confidence in the world when it comes to his shooting ability. When he is on, it is a spectacular site to see, as evidenced by today’s performance. The same thing applies to Myles Dread and Myreon Jones, both whom nailed a trey apiece.
  • Disaster Averted - Penn State avoided an embarassing choke job of a loss, but this game did nothing to inspire confidence that this team is going to find its footing come January, when they have nothing but Big Ten opponents on the slate.

Looking Ahead

Penn State (5-4) goes to Atlantic City, NJ next Saturday to take on North Carolina State. Tip-off is at 2:00 PM ET on ESPNU.