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Penn State 75, Youngstown State 59: 1-0 This Week

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The Micah Shrewsberry era begins with a dub.

NCAA Basketball: Youngstown State at Penn State Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It was one of the most anticipated season openers in Penn State hoops history, one coming off the heels of what was a chaotic 2020-21 season filled with plenty of uncertainty about the future of the program. That uncertainty had since been replaced by hope and cautious optimism with the official beginning of the Micah Shrewsberry era, an era that began on the same day that the Nittany Lions signed their best recruiting class, ever.

The game started out with PSU jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead, thanks to a three-pointer from Seth Lundy and layup by John Harrar. The Penguins would answer back though, keeping things tight with a blazing 9-for-11 shooting from the floor, allowing them at one point to own a 21-17 lead. Youngstown would cool off dramatically though, thanks in part to PSU toughening up on the defensive end. The Lions would then boost their lead to as high as ten before heading to the locker room at halftime up 35-26, thanks to some scoring help off the bench from Jalanni White (who crashed the boards almost as well as Harrar), as well as Dallion Johnson and Jaheam Cornwall.

The second half saw PSU push their lead to as high as 16 points, thanks to Sam Sessoms and Jalen Pickett starting to pick up some of the scoring slack (Pickett would score nine points and grab five rebounds in his PSU debut). The Penguins however, would not go down quietly, as they caught fire from three-point range to cut the PSU lead all the way down to six. The Lions had answers though, every time the Penguins would nail a trey, and ultimately rattled off a 12-0 run of their own to finally put the game out of reach and earn Coach Shrews his first victory at Penn State, as well as his first victory as a Division I head coach.

Four Factors

The PPP and offensive rebound percentage differences tell the story: Penn State was far more efficient with their possessions than Youngstown. The Lions also had twice as many offensive rebounds as the Penguins (12 to 6). All else being equal, I’ll take that kind of performance any night of the week.

Players of the Game - Seth Lundy (23 points, 6 rebounds, 3-for-5 3 PT FG), John Harrar (16 points, 14 rebounds), Sam Sessoms (17 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals)

It would have been a crime against humanity to exclude any one of these three from POTG honors tonight. Seth led the team in scoring, Harrar was an unstoppable force down low en route to another double-double, and Sam seemed to have an answer every time Youngstown hit a trey, which helped quell the bleeding and didn’t allow the Penguins to get any closer than six points in the second half.

Random Observations

  • Welcome Back, Fans - As impressive as it was that we were able to have an interrupted college hoops season last season, I never got used to hearing only the sounds of sneakers squeaking and coaches and players yelling. Even at the notoriously quiet BJC, you can hear the difference with fans in attendance, and it gave a feeling of normalcy.
  • Shrews’ Scheming - How many times have we heard fans complain about how the team struggled to run set plays coming out of timeouts or other stoppages in play? Every time there was such a stoppage, it seemed like Shrews had something drawn up for the guys to run, and it was a thing of beauty to see them result in some buckets. I suppose this is what having someone with an “offensive coordinator” background gets you, and I for one, love it!
  • Taking Care of Business - The road will get a lot bumpier once the team hits the heart of Big Ten play, especially if Greg Lee and Jevonnie Scott aren’t back by then. The important thing right now is the team takes care of business against teams like Youngstown despite being a little short-handed.

Up Next

Penn State heads to the New England area this coming Monday (November 15th) to take on UMass. Tipoff will be at 7:00 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.