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Takeaways from Penn State’s 74-59 win over Saint Francis Brooklyn

A PENN STATE CAREER-HIGH FOR SESSOMS 

Sam Sessoms took what the defense gave him.

Part of Saint Francis Brookyln’s defensive game plan against Penn State Thursday night at the Bryce Jordan Center revolved around denying passing lanes. 

The problem was when the Terriers shut down the passing lanes, leaving the driving lanes open, and Sessoms saw an opportunity. 

He cashed in, scoring 26 points, which is the most he’s had since transferring to Penn State from Binghamton before the 2020-21 season.

 “We knew they were an aggressive team on defense, trying to deny passing lanes,” Sessoms said. “You can’t be good at everything, so when they denied the passing lanes, that means the driving lanes would be here, and if I beat my man, I knew I would have a wide-open layup.”

Sessoms scored 16 points in the first have, getting into a groove that allowed him to score 16 of Penn State’s last 21 first-half points.

“I felt like I could beat him, but you can’t do it every time. After I got my first shot, then got my second shot, Coach (Shrewsberry) was kind of telling me that the first two times were just like me off my instincts.”

PLAYING TO THE STANDARD

With 15:31 left in the game, coach Micah Shrewsberry had enough.

Sensing some complacency on defense, Shrewsberry decided to pull four of the five players on the floor, leaving only John Harrar. 

“We’re going to play to a standard,” he said. “I don’t care what the score is; I don’t care who we’re playing, I don’t care who’s in the game. The game needs to be played the right way, and those guys weren’t playing the right way. So we found five guys that we’re going to go in there and play it the right way.

“I told the three walk-ons that were sitting there that they were next if those guys didn’t get it done. We were going to find five guys. I think the rules tell me that I have to start with five, but I can probably play four at some point in time if we need to.”

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Penn State struggled with pressure in Monday’s 81-56 loss at UMass, turning the ball over 15 times. 

Despite a more positive result Thursday night, the Nittany Lions, again facing pressure, turned it over 15 times again. 

“We didn’t value the basketball. Our goal is ten turnovers or less. If you would come and watch us practice, we do stuff every single day, passing and catching. You would think you were at an elementary school practice, but that’s the game right there. Passing and catching. Can I throw a hard pass? Can I meet my pass? Can I pass it with two hands? Can I pass fake? That’s where we need to continue to get better. We worked against the press for two straight days, and we still weren’t great at it.”

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