Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions down Winthrop 93-68

Penn State Basketball's Jalen Pickett (Image via The Indianapolis Star)
Penn State Basketball's Jalen Pickett (Image via The Indianapolis Star) /

Penn State Basketball started the 2022-23 season with a bang on Monday night. 

The inaugural game of the 2022-2023 basketball season tipped off for the Penn State Nittany Lions and Micah Shrewsberry and company did what they had to do against Winthrop 93-68 in front of a sleepy home crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center Monday evening.

Going into this season, there were many questions surrounding the program:
-Can Penn State basketball take the coveted 358th place in terms of pace of play?
-Will the team build on the limited success from last season with the returning veterans and the new young guns added?
-Will Myles Dread defend all five positions in a single game?
-Is Micah Shrewsberry actually a good coach?
-Is someone impersonating KemPom?

But the biggest question going into the first game of the season was “Who would be the starting five?”. Well, for obvious reasons, this question was answered fairly quickly as Coach Shrewsberry threw out Jalen Pickett, Caleb Dorsey, Seth Lundy, Andrew Funk, and Camren Wynter to begin the game. And if you had these five guys pegged in the starting lineup to start the season then I would call you a liar.

Interesting so far.

The next big question on every Nittany Lion’s mind was “What would the front court rotation look like?”. And based on what everyone saw tonight, I firmly believe this is going to be a major issue going forward because… reasons.

Now onto the action!

Jalen Pickett scored the first bucket of the game to give the Nittany Lions a 2-0 lead two minutes into the game, however Winthrop countered on their next position to knock down a three pointer to take their only lead of the first half 3-2.

Both teams then traded baskets for the next several minutes which included a three pointer from Myles Dread in his first shot attempt of the evening. Hopefully this will be a sign of good things to come for him on the year as the Nittany Lions will need him to knock down shots in key moments.

Penn State and Winthrop continued to go toe to toe until late in the first half when true freshman Kebba Njie snagged on offensive board and the put back to give himself his career points and give the Nittany Lions a 33-25 lead with five minutes and change to go.

Dread then drained his third three of the half and Andrew Funk knocked down back-to-back three’s to give Penn State a commanding 42-25 lead with less than three minutes to go.

However Winthrop was able to claw their way back thanks to a 7-2 run and Penn State held the lead, 44-32, going into the locker room for halftime.

So far so good. And the pace of play was slightly faster than a tortoise!

Baby steps, I guess.

Dread, Dallion Johnson, Evan Mahaffrey, and Njie all saw time off the bench in the first half and the quartet combined for 15 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. I know it’s only Winthrop, but Penn State will need production from their bench this season if they hope to have any semblance of success this season.

The Nittany Lions then went on an 8-0 run of their own to start the second half to open up their largest of the evening 52-32.

There was finally a Seth Lundy sighting in the game as he drained his first bucket from the floor, a three pointer, to extend Penn State’s lead to 57-34.

Lundy splashed his second triple on the night and going into the under-12 TV timeout, the Nittany Lions were cruising up 21, 66-45.

But there was no giving up from the Winthrop Eagles as they went on an 8-0 run themselves to cut the lead to 66-53 with less than 10 minutes left in the game. Would Penn State be able to answer following a nearly three minutes scoring drought?

Caleb Dorsey said “Yes” by draining a three pointer to stop the bleeding and Penn State jumped back out to a 16 point lead, 69-53.

Penn State and Winthrop continued to trade buckets and free throws and going into the under-4 TV timeout, the Nittany Lions owned a 26 point lead, 87-61. I think at this point it’s safe to say you can light up the victory cigar if you’re a Nittany Lion fan.

Player of the game

Jalen Pickett – 23 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal

Was Pickett a clear-cut player of the game? No, because I myself was pleasantly surprised with the performance of Bucknell transfer Andrew Funk. But in the end, Pickett was reliable with the ball, he knocked down open looks, he rebounded well, he was able to facilitate to other teammates, and he played good defense which is why I have him as Penn State’s player of the game.

Notable stats

Andrew Funk – 22 points, 4 assists, 2 steals, 2 rebounds
Myles Dread – 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Seth Lundy – 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

Next up for the Nittany Lions is a home tilt against Loyola (Md.) this Thursday, November 10th, at 7:00 PM in the Bryce Jordan Center. The game will be streamed on B1G+ and available on the radio through the Penn State Sports Network.