Before heading down to Florida and Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex next week for the ESPN Events Invitational, Penn State had one last “tune-up” opponent to prepare in Morehead State. Thanks to some staunch defense and forcing Morehead State into some sloppy turnovers early on, the Nittany Lions were able to jump out to an early 10-4 lead. However, once the Eagles settled down and the Lions suffered some cold shooting (partially due to poor shot selection, and partially due to open shots just simply not going down), they were able to go on a 10-0 run that gave them a four-point lead, and giving PSU more of a tune-up than they bargained for.
The Eagles were seemingly in control with the score being no worse than a tie, and gave themselves a three-point lead at 19-16 with less than seven minutes to play in the first half, but momentum shifted in PSU’s favor when Morehead State’s Jordan Lathon committed a “flagrant two” foul on Ace Baldwin, who took a nice shot to the crown jewels. Ace calmly sank both free throws and Kanye Clary scored a bucket on the subsequent possession, which helped spark a 16-3 run to put PSU up double-digits. The Lions would use that momentum to take a 37-26 lead into the locker room.
The second half saw PSU pick up where they left off, as they dialed up the defense and continued to force turnovers, while the shooting gradually picked up for the Lions and ultimately allowed them to build their lead to as high as 27 points en route to a comfortable win in their final game before the real tests begin next week down in Florida.
Players of the Game
Ace Baldwin - 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Qudus Wahab - 14 points, 12 rebounds, 1 block
Ace recovered nicely from a shot to the nuts to continue being the floor general and put up a solid stat line, while Wahab racked up a double-double in the paint. Shout-out also to Kanye Clary, who also pitched in double-digits scoring with 14 of them to go with four rebounds, a pair of assists, and a pair of steals.
- Turnovers are the new three-pointers - Remember last year when you worried about whether the student section would run out of ‘3’ placards to hang up after every trey? They need to start hanging placards for turnovers, because the Nittany Lions continued their insane pace of forcing turnovers, as Morehead State committed 29 turnovers, with 19 coming in the first half alone.
- When the shots aren’t falling... There’s always defense and free throws to fall back on. These were an issue last season, when PSU wasn’t quite as strong defensively and trips to the charity stripe were less frequent, which sometimes allowed things to truly get ugly when the shots weren’t dropping. Tonight, despite some cold shooting from the floor (30.3 percent in the first half), the Lions were able to take a double-digit lead into halftime thanks to the turnovers and getting frequently to the free throw line, hitting 16 of 19 in the first half.
- O hey, Leo! - Leo O’Boyle came into Happy Valley as a heralded three-point shooter at his previous school, Lafayette. Unfortunately for Leo, he failed to knock down a single trey in his first three outings in a blue and white uniform, but the frustrations finally ended tonight when he drained one from downtown midway through the second half, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. Shooters gotta keep shooting.
Penn State (4-0) will hit the road for the first time this season to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida to face No. 13 Texas A&M in the first of three separate games at the ESPN Events Invitational. Tip-off will be at Noon EST on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 23rd) on ESPN.