Big first half powers Penn State past St. Francis Brooklyn in Emerald Coast Classic

Penn State men’s basketball returned to the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday night, and it resulted in a rebound win for the Nittany Lions. Penn State got off to a good start against visiting St. Francis Brooklyn and used that effort to improve to 2-1 with a 74-59 victory over the Terriers in the first game of the Emerald Coast Classic.

Sam Sessoms scored a game-high 26 points and big man John Harrar recorded a double-double, his second of the season. Penn State trailed 6-2 early on in the game, but then they went on a run to take a 14-11 lead at the under-12 media timeout. Penn State never trailed for the rest of the game. Sessoms closed out the first half scoring the final six points of the half to boost Penn state’s halftime lead to 40-27, giving Penn state momentum entering halftime.

Sessoms and Harrar also connected on one of the plays of the game, an alley-oop to a wide-open Harrar for the slam.

Head coach Micah Shrewsberry threw out a slightly new look to the starting lineup on Thursday night. Senior Jalanni White made his way into the starting lineup for his first career start. White added eight points and seven rebounds. That included this sequence that showed the determination of White to finish the play.

Penn State is now 2-0 at home early on in the season, and it was good to see the program bounce back after a rough outing earlier in the week at UMass. Shrewsberry said the blowout loss to the Minutemen was a good learning experience for a roster that is blending a handful of returning vets with transfers in Shrewsberry’s first season as a head coach. It’s still very early in the season and it may be too much to ask to draw any real conclusions following a home win against a team that has yet to win a game, but it’s OK to take any grain of optimism whenever possible

The Nittany Lions have some good tests upcoming in the coming weeks that should tell more about where this team is early in the Shrewsberry era.

Penn State will host one more game in the Emerald Coast Classic when they host Cornell on Monday evening. Penn State and Cornell are scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. ET tip in the Bryce Jordan Center. Then, on Black Friday (Nov. 26), the Nittany Lions will be in Florida to take on the LSU Tigers in the third game of the Emerald Coast Classic. Penn State will play either Oregon State or Wake Forest the following day as the Emerald Coast Classic comes to a close.

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