UNIVERSITY PARK, PENNSYLVANIA — Temple limited Penn State’s most talented offensive player on Wednesday.
Penn State sophomore guard Tony Carr only recorded two points on 1-of-12 shooting. Temple doubled-teamed and denied him the ball off screens on nearly every offensive possession. Carr didn’t make his first basket until midway through the fourth quarter.
“You could tell their game plan was to stop me,” said Carr, who earned First Team All-Big Ten Conference honors this season.
Despite Carr’s limited impact on offense, the Nittany Lions (22-13, 9-9 Big Ten) beat Temple (17-16, 8-10 American Athletic Conference) 63-57 in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State got a boost offensively from several other players late in the fourth quarter.
Junior guard Josh Reaves helped Penn State go on a 15-3 run in the final three minutes, 24 seconds. He hit one of three Penn State 3-pointers during its run to end the game.
“[Reaves] really willed us when we needed it the most,” coach Pat Chambers said.
Senior guard Shep Garner drilled the other two 3-pointers during that stretch. His trey with 1:06 remaining gave the Nittany Lions a 59-54 lead.
Reaves shot 2-for-21 in his previous two games in the Big Ten Conference tournament, but he led Penn State with a season-high 19 points off 4-of-6 shooting on 3-pointers. Garner finished with eight points and three rebounds.
Because Temple focused so much on Carr and Penn State’s other scorers, it opened up ways for Reaves to score, he said.
“We needed to tighten it more up defensively down the stretch because those three threes killed us,” coach Fran Dunphy said.
Sophomore forward Lamar Stevens got into foul trouble early in the contest and only played five minutes in the first half. He also finished the half scoreless.
Penn State went into halftime with five attempts from the free-throw line, but it got to the line more frequently in the second half.
Stevens, who went 8-for-11 from the free-throw line, poured in all 10 of his points in the third quarter. Penn State finished the game shooting 20-for-30 on free throws.
Chambers said Penn State’s ability to make stops on defense allowed his squad to get out in transition and attack the rim. The Nittany Lions went on an 11-4 run to end the third quarter and cut their deficit to four points at 48-44.
Penn State scored 22 bench points, more than tripling Temple’s seven bench points.
Sophomore guard Nazeer Bostick led Penn State bench scoring with 12 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field. Graduate forward Julian Moore also chipped in 10 points and went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
“We’re a deep team,” Carr said. “We have good players. Different guys are going to have to step up every night. Every night is not going to be my night. Every night is not going to be Shep’s night, and tonight it was Josh’s night. He stepped up, made some big shots. He basically just led us to the win.”