Recap: Seth Lundy and Jalen Pickett posted 20 points apiece, as Penn State held off a furious second-half rally by Furman to hold on for a 73-68 victory in the opening game of the 2022 Shriners Charleston Classic at TD Arena.
The Nittany Lions improve to 4-0 and move on to face Virginia Tech (4-0) in the semifinals slated for 2 p.m. Friday afternoon. The Paladins will take the court once again in the first game of the day, taking on Old Dominion (2-2) in the first loser’s bracket game.
Trailing 69-63 with 2:28 remaining, Mike Bothwell hit Jalen Slawson, who flashed to the basket on a pick-and-roll and slammed it home with two hands to cut the Nittany Lions lead to just four, at 69-65. Following an Andrew Funk missed three-pointer after a timeout, Furman’s Tyrese Hughey knocked down a three on the other end to bring the Paladins to within a point, at 69-68, which is close as the game had been since the score was 10-9 Nittany Lions with 15:15 remaining in the opening half of play.
Following the Hughey three-pointer, Penn State’s Lundy countered with a basket to take Penn State’s lead back to three, at 71-68, with 1:22 remaining. The Paladins called timeout with 1:04 remaining, and head coach Bob Richey drew up a play for Mike Bothwell. Bothwell’s was freed up by a beautiful screen at the top of the key, however, his three-pointer went almost all the way down in the hoop before rimming out, leaving the deficit at three.
Furman’s defense, however, did its job on the other end and got the stop it needed to give the Paladins another shot to trim the Penn State lead to one or tie the contest with a three. The Paladins would have a couple of chances to connect on the game-tying three-pointer, but J.P. Pegues’ three hit back iron, but Hughey came up with the rebound and the ball found its way to Bothwell once again, and just as before, Bothwell’s three-point was three-fourths of the way down before rimming out, and Penn State’s Lundy came up with the ball and had to immediately be fouled with six seconds remaining. Lundy knocked down both ends of the 1-and-1 to provide the final points of the game, as the Nittany Lions held on for the win.
Penn State connected on 6-of-13 three-pointers in the opening half, connecting on 54.8% of its shots from the field to go to the halftime locker room leading 46-29. At one point, the Nittany Lions held as much as a 21-point on two occasions, however, with the Paladins trailing 46-25 following a Jalen Pickett basket with 90 seconds remaining in the half, the Paladins would take a small amount of momentum into the half by scoring the final four points of the half on layups by Slawson and Bothwell, trailing by 17 at the half.
The two teams started fast, with Furman making its first two shots of the contest to take an early 5-0 lead courtesy of a dunk by Jalen Slawson and a three-pointer in transition by J.P. Pegues in transition, however, Penn State would take its first lead at 10-9 on a layup by eventually taking the 12-9 lead at the first media timeout on back-to-back layups by Cameron Wynter.
Penn State finished the game by connecting on 45.8% (27-of-59) of its shots from the field for the game, which included a 40.7% (11-of-27) from three-point land. The Paladins finished the contest hitting 42.2% () of their shots from the field, while finishing 32.4% (11-of-34) from three-point range.
Furman finished holding advantages in points in the paint (28-20), second-chance points (13-8), total rebounds (40-32), bench points (21-18), and fast-break points (8-3). Penn State claimed advantages in total assists (16-14) and points from turnovers (12-8).
Mike Bothwell finished scoring a game-high 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting from the field, which included a 3-for-10 shooting effort from three-point land. He was also 3-for-4 from the free throw line, and as a team, the Paladins were 3-of-7 from the stripe. Bothwell also added rebounds and four assists to a third-straight strong performance to start out the 2022-23 season.
Tyrese Hughey matched his previous career-high established last time out against Belmont, and finished with his first-career double-double, adding 15 points and 11 rebounds. Hughey went 6-for-8 from the field, including going 3-for-5 from three-point land.
“I only hit three three-pointers all of last year and I just hit three tonight, so that’s tied and J-Ly (assistant coach Jordan Lyons) been in the gym all off-season at like 5:30 in the morning after coming back from my hip surgery and I haven’t been as athletic, but I have been working on my three-pointer,” Tyrese Hughey said of his shooting performance against the Nittany Lions.
Jalen Slawson also finished off his third-straight double-digit scoring effort to start the season, with 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and a steal.
Furman doesn’t have much of a turnaround, facing Old Dominion in the consolation semifinal game Friday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m.
“It was a tough loss and I wish we could have that first half back, but that second half run showed a lot about this team and what this program is about and we fought and definitely made a statement today and Penn State is going to leave knowing who we are and there’s definitely no moral victories in this program and we’re definitely far past the point where we’re comfortable losing by single digits to a high major, but this definitely going to be something we can look back on down in the season where we can say we were down before to a good team and we can come back again,” senior guard Mike Bothwell said.
“As a coach, on the sidelines you watch them hit everything and feel like it’s an avalanche. To see your team stay in there and just be resilient, that’s the sign of a good team,” Furman head coach Bob Richey said. “We’re way past moral victories, but it does give you hope to see a team get down like that and not lay down. We will respond tomorrow. We’ve got to come out and fight.”