FINAL: MSU coasts by Penn State, 78-51
WASHINGTON D.C. — In the nation's capital, the Spartans looked presidential in all facets deafeating the Penn State Nittany Lions, 78-51.
Snubbed from the Big Ten All-Freshman team, freshman forward Nick Ward showed his determination early to prove he deserved the honor. Ward scored nine points in just seven minutes played to start the first half while also grabbing 6 rebounds in that time. For the game, Ward finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds.
Halfway through the first half, MSU was already ahead by 10 points.
Over the next few minutes, Bridges grabbed a defensive rebound, passed it up to Nairn, leading to a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Matt McQuaid. His three put MSU on a 10-0 run and up 15 points.
All the Nittany Lions could manage was an 8-0 run, which was quickly turned around by the Spartans. Bridges took a pass on the baseline and contorted his body to finish off a dunk. The slam by Bridges gave him 8 points and gave the Spartans a 9-0 run to end the first half, 45-27.
In the second half, MSU went on cruise control and onto the next round.
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A steady wave of Ward in the post put PSU forward Mike Watkins in foul trouble. With 16:19 left in the second half, Watkins picked up his third foul.
In their round one win over Nebraska, Watkins led the Nittany Lions with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 8 blocks. His eight swats set a record for the most blocks in a Big Ten Tournament game. Against MSU he would only have 6 points and 5 rebounds.
As a team, MSU shot 49 percent, while holding Penn State to just 29 percent.
Lourawls "Tum Tum" Nairn Jr. would have an effective game. Despite taking and missing his one shot, Nairn had nine assists and zero turnovers.
Freshman guard Joshua Langford continued his aggressive play since the injury of fifth-year senior guard Eron Harris. Langford scored 13 points with 5 rebounds.
MSU (19-13 overall, 11-8)
Points - Bridges and Ward (15)
Rebounds - Bridges and Ward (9)
Assists - Nairn (9)
Penn State (15-18 overall, 6-13)
Points - Carr and Stevens (16)
Rebounds - Garner (7)
Assists - Carr (3)
MSU will play 4-seed Minnesota tomorrow at 2 p.m. on ESPN. This season the Spartans are 2-0 against the Golden Gophers.