STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – Lamar Stevens and Rasir Bolton scored 25 points apiece and Penn State beat Jacksonville State 76-61 on Monday night.
Stevens also grabbed nine rebounds and Josh Reaves chipped in 11 points for the Nittany Lions (2-0) who won their second straight inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
Jason Burnell scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Jacksonville State (0-2). Derrick Mostella added 17 and Christian Cunningham notched 10 for the Gamecocks.
A back-and-forth first half turned for good on Bolton’s second 3-pointer of the game. It gave the Nittany Lions the lead with 6:17 to play in the first half and Stevens helped them seize control with six points over the next 4:31.
After leading 37-32 at halftime, Penn State built 11-point leads twice before padding their total in the final minute. Stevens drew a foul en route to a layup then sank the free throw to put Penn State up 59-48 with 8:24 left. Reaves nailed a 3-pointer just over five minutes later to make it 66-55 with 3:18 to go.
Jacksonville State: The Gamecocks won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in 2017, and although they were knocked out in the semis in the spring, still won a program-best 23 games. Picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference by coaches in the preseason, the Gamecocks appear to have all the pieces to aim higher and vie for another title and a third-straight 20-win season.
Penn State: With a lot of new faces and big forward Mike Watkins still taking personal time away from the team, coach Pat Chambers wants to get a look at multiple lineups. With Reaves in foul trouble early, Chambers had the chance to get Jamari Wheeler more time with Bolton, Myles Dread and Myreon Jones on his wings.
Jacksonville State visits Bradley on Wednesday.
Penn State plays DePaul in a Gavitt Tipoff Series game in Chicago on Thursday.
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