All-Big Ten senior forward Lamar Stevens produced 17 points in 20 minutes to lead six players in double figures as host Penn State overwhelmed Maryland-Eastern Shore 84-46 in a non-conference season opener Tuesday night at University Park, Pa.
Sophomore shooting guard Myles Dread canned five 3-pointers for 15 points while senior center Mike Watkins (12 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocks) recorded his 27th career double-double as Penn State claimed its season opener for the 14th time in the last 15 years.
Maryland Eastern Shore, which won seven games each of the last two seasons, never held a lead during Jason Crafton’s debut as Hawks head coach. Senior forward AJ Cheeseman led the way with 9 points as the Hawks (0-1) shot just 33.3 percent from the field.
Penn State bolted to a 9-0 lead in the opening 100 seconds as the Nittany Lions spread it around to all of their weapons early.
Watkins posted up for a layup on the season’s first possession, Dread buried a 3-pointer on the second possession and Stevens made two free throws and followed them up with a slam of junior guard Jamari Wheeler’s missed fast-break layup.
Maryland Eastern Shore pulled within 20-12 on Cheeseman’s jumper with 10:27 left, but the Hawks didn’t score again until the 3:41 mark as Penn State reeled off 13 points in a row. Watkins started the run with a jumper before Stevens contributed six points and sophomore guard Izaiah Brockington (10 points) added five.
Penn State built a 37-17 lead at the break and went on to seize its first 40-point lead (62-22) on Dread’s 3-pointer with 13:29 to play. Stevens’ final basket came with 16:16 to go as Wheeler led the break and bounced a pass off the backboard that Stevens threw down with two hands.
Watkins became the second player in Penn State history — joining 10-year NBA veteran Calvin Booth — to reach 200 blocked shots. Less than one minute into the game, Watkins rejected Cheeseman’s 3-point attempt for his 200th career block.
Earlier in the day, Penn State announced that fifth-year guard Curtis Jones Jr. received a waiver from the NCAA. Jones averaged 8.1 points and 3.0 rebounds last season for Oklahoma State and contributed 10 points in 24 minutes off the bench in his Nittany Lions debut.
—Field Level Media