Penn State basketball controlled the first half and stumbled through the second en route to a late 76-65 win over Colegate on Saturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions opened the game hot, taking an early 10-2 lead as Colegate turned the ball over four times in the contests first few minutes. Meanwhile it was Rasir Bolton pouring in 17 first half points as he went 5-of-6 from behind the arc to lead all scorers.
Big man Mike Watkins was active on the boards early and often as the junior pulled down eight first half rebounds and scored six points while adding two blocks. The Nittany Lions were generally the better team on both ends of the floor, opening a 19-point lead before Colgate pulled it to a 41-30 margin at the half.
For the most part that was the story in the second half, but the Nittany Lions cooled and nine turnovers in the final 20 minutes of play slowly closed the gap. A layup by Jordan Burns turned a once 19-point lead to just a basket margin as Penn State led 58-55. Colgate would never pull even though despite still trailing by just three with 2:44 to play at 65-62.
It was then that Penn State’s clutch shotmaking and key defense came into play, Mike Watkins hitting two free throws and collecting three rebounds in the game’s final two minutes. A three by Josh Reaves with 1:01 to go put the Nittany Lions ahead 72-62 and effectively ended the game.
Bolton finished the night with 27-point going 7-for-13 from beyond the arc, two shy of both the program’s single-game makes and attempts record from three. Watkins was effective on both ends pulling down 16 rebounds while scoring 18. It was a prototypical Josh Reaves night from the senior as he managed nine points while adding five assists, three steals, a block and six rebounds to his career totals.
Lamar Stevens had an innefecient night by his standards going 5-of-13 from the field but still managing a double-double with 10 rebounds and 12 points. Freshman Myles Dread continued his cold shooting slump hitting one shot on six attempts but still aded two assists and a steal to the effort.
The Nittany Lions, now at 5-4 on the year, travel to Atlantic City for a natural site game against NC State next Saturday, the second of a five-game out of conference stretch.