Penn State 74, UMBC 52: Nittany Lions Coast in Non-Con Closer

By Chad Markulics on December 29, 2018 at 3:15 pm
Pat Chambers and Mike Watkins (left)
Matthew O'Haren - USA Today Sports
  1st half 2nd half final
UMBC 27 25 52
Penn State 40 34 74

With one game remaining before a daunting January in the Big Ten, starting with five currently-ranked team, Penn State needed to get some kinks worked out after a tumultuous close to their non-conference slate. They did just that in a 74-52 win over UMBC in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions (7-6, 0-2) knocked down ten three-pointers and connected on 50% of their field goal attempts in the easy victory.

For a minute the Nittany Lions looked like they may suffer a similar fate to Virginia, but a strong close out to the second half saw them carry a 13-point advantage to the locker room. Two triples apiece from freshmen Myles Dread and Rasir Bolton over the closing seven minutes blew the game open from a 23-23 scoreline. Lamar Stevens also added 11 points in the first half, two of which came on a breakaway dunk with a nasty landing - the team's leader popped up right away, however, and any worst-case injury scare was avoided.

Speaking of dunks, Bolton showcased his ups to get Penn State on the board in the second half with a vicious slam on a drive from the left wing.

He followed that up later by pulling up Steph Curry-style in transition and splashing one from 24 feet, his third of four triples on the afternoon. The freshman's highs have been one of the bright spots of the non-conference season - he finishes the calendar year second on the team in scoring behind Stevens, adding a team-high 18 to his tally today.

  Poss PPP eFG% OReb% TO% FTRate
UMBC 58 0.90 41.1% 36.8% 19.1% 16.1
Penn State 1.28 60.0% 42.9% 17.4% 42.0

Penn State saw the game out with ease in the second half. The Retrievers only ever got within 14 points as Myreon Jones got in on the act with a couple of triples and the Nittany Lions put the clamps on a much smaller team, holding UMBC to just 35.7% shooting from the floor for the afternoon. That defensive performance allowed Chambers to empty his bench with just over three minutes to play - Daniil Kasatkin and recently-eligible Kyle McCloskey got their first extended minutes of the season. The latter recorded his first career points with a tip-in to give Penn State a 21-point lead.

Next up for Penn State is a trip to Ann Arbor to face the Big Ten favorites in Michigan. The undefeated Wolverines have been one of the stories of the early season, strolling through a difficult non-conference slate with wins over Villanova and North Carolina. The Nittany Lions will be double-digit underdogs in Crisler Arena as they begin their Big Ten season. More on that game next year.