Stevens leads Penn State to 87-72 win over North Florida
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Lamar Stevens scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Penn State to a season-opening 87-72 win over North Florida on Friday night.
Josh Reaves added 19 points, Myles Dread chipped in 17 and Rasir Bolton notched 13 for the Nittany Lions (1-0), who unveiled their NIT championship banner before the game.
Stevens didn’t wait to pick up where he finished last season.
The forward, who averaged 19.2 points per game over the final five postseason games in the spring, scored 18 in the first half with eight over the final 9:14 to give Penn State a 40-28 halftime lead.
Garrett Sams led the Ospreys (0-2) with 16 points, while Noah Horchler and Ezekiel Balogun scored 10 apiece for North Florida, which cut Penn State’s lead to eight early in the second half but trailed by 18 with 5:45 left.
North Florida: The Ospreys were tabbed by Atlantic Sun Conference coaches to finish fourth in the preseason and appear to have the offense to compete. All five starters are back from last year’s 14-19 squad that went 7-7 in conference play, but they need to be better out of the gate. The Ospreys went 0-6 to start last season with five of those games played on the road. North Florida will return home on Wednesday but will play their next four away from home.
Penn State: It was a special night for the Nittany Lions who knocked off No. 13 West Virginia, a Sweet 16 team in the spring, with a last-second basket in a charity exhibition on Saturday. They unveiled their NIT championship banner and paid tribute to graduated veterans Julian Moore and Shep Garner. More importantly, they ushered in a handful of youngsters who looked good in their first games and will need to compliment the team’s veterans if Penn State plans to make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.
North Florida: The Ospreys host Edward Waters on Wednesday.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions host Jacksonville State on Monday.