Lamar Stevens registered a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Reaves added 19 points as host Penn State rolled past North Florida, 87-72, in its season opener on Friday night.
Freshmen Myles Dread (17 points) and Rasir Bolton (13) also finished in double figures for the defending National Invitation Tournament champion Nittany Lions, who extended their winning streak to eight games, the second longest in the nation.
The Ospreys had three players finish in double figures, as Garrett Sams (16 points), Noah Horchler (10) and Ezekiel Balogun (10) provided a balanced punch. Despite trailing for much of the night, North Florida maintained a physical pace with Penn State, getting outrebounded just 39-38 while blocking six shots to the Nittany Lions’ five.
Penn State shot 47.4 percent from the floor while converting 71.4 percent of its free throws. The Ospreys were cooler by comparison, shooting 42.2 percent from the floor while converting just 13-of-22 free-throws, a 59.1 percent rate.
North Florida (0-2) took a 16-14 lead on a Sams layup with 11:20 remaining in the first half, but Penn State never trailed after that, tying the game on a Stevens jumper on its next possession as part of a 26-12 run to close the half.
The Nittany Lions capitalized on a cold shooting stretch from the Ospreys in the latter stages of the opening half. Similar struggles over an extended stretch doomed North Florida in Wednesday’s season-opening loss at Dayton, transforming a tight game into a comfortable edge for the Flyers.
Penn State raised the banner for the school’s 2017-18 NIT title before Friday’s game. The Nittany Lions made the championship trophy available for public pregame viewing on the Bryce Jordan Center concourse, as well.
The Nittany Lions have won 13 of their past 14 season openers and seven of eight under coach Patrick Chambers.
—Field Level Media