Watkins has double-double, Penn State beats Binghamton 80-65
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (AP) — As he went after his own rebounds during warmups on Tuesday, Josh Reaves took a moment to appreciate the long shots arcing overhead and falling, one after the other, through Penn State’s hoop.
Reaves got to appreciate the makes all night.
Penn State (10-3) made 57 percent of its shots on 31-for-54 shooting with 10 3-pointers in its 80-65 win over Binghamton on Tuesday night.
“I knew that my teammates were feeling it,” Reaves said.
Mike Watkins scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help Penn State win its third straight and snap Binghamton’s seven-game winning streak.
Lamar Stevens scored 16 points while Reaves, Tony Carr and Shep Garner all chipped in 15 points each for the Nittany Lions, who led for all but 2:49, opened the game with an 8-0 run and led 39-36 at halftime.
“They’re built to and they drive it relentlessly into the paint,” Binghamton coach Tommy Dempsey said. “We needed (to make them) beat us from 3 and I thought we guarded the line pretty good. They hit some long ones.”
Garner got Penn State started. He went 5 for 7 from 3-point range and began each half with two deep shots.
J.C. Show led Binghamton (8-5) with 13 points while Tyler Stewart notched 12 and Thomas Bruce added 10 for the Bearcats, who led 19-16 in the first half. The Bearcats tried to keep pace from distance and finished 9 for 23 from 3-point range.
Show and Fard Muhammed made six of their squad’s 3s and a layup from Bruce cut Penn State’s lead to eight with 5:20 to play. But Garner and Reaves sank three straight 3s to put the game out of reach.
“I’m proud of our guys for the second half,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “We made the necessary plays that we needed to in the second half.”
With nearly all their classmates already gone for winter break — the reason why the Bryce Jordan Center’s usually full student section was nearly empty Tuesday — Penn State players may be itching to return home to spend holiday time with their families, too.
Chambers acknowledged as much, calling this “such a difficult time for our players” as they wait to close out their pre-Christmas slate with a home game against Rider on Friday.
“There’s nobody here,” Chambers said. “There’s so many distractions on the outside with the holidays and you saw upsets over the last few days and we’ve just got to stay present, stay dialed-in.”
Chambers’ short-term plan before the team resumes practice later this week? Throw a Christmas bash for his players at his house on Wednesday.
“Get back to work on Thursday, practice hard,” Chambers said. “Do our routines for Friday and get prepared for a really good Rider team.”
Penn State outscored Binghamton in the paint 36-30, outrebounded the Bearcats 36-31 and scored 17 points off 15 turnovers. . Carr led all players with nine assists in his return from a one-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules. . Six Nittany Lions finished with a steal with Reaves leading the way with two. . Bruce grabbed nine rebounds for Binghamton and Show added five assists.
Binghamton: The Bearcats stayed in this one and should have high hopes for their chances in the America East race. Its seven-game winning streak was the team’s longest in nine years since it won 11 straight en route to an America East championship.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions have gotten better at finishing games and improved to 10-0 this season when leading at halftime. They’re doing it with scoring from everywhere as Tuesday’s game marked the fifth time this season at least five Nittany Lions scored in double figures. ... Watkins’ double-double is the 11th of his career.
Binghamton hosts LIU-Brooklyn on Friday.
Penn State stays at home to face Rider on Friday.