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September 7, 2011 – | 1 Comment

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Talor Battle sends it into OT, PSU advances on in NIT

Submitted by on March 17, 2009No Comment

It was a Saint Patrick’s Day miracle.

Down 65-62, with just 5 seconds left, it looked like Penn State would end the season on an even more dissapointing note than its snub on Selection Sunday.  It looked like Penn State was going to lose to George Mason in the first round of the NIT.

But Talor Battle just wouldn’t let that happen.  He took the inbound with 4.8 seconds remaining in regulation, sprinted up court, and took an off-balance three.  Contorting his body to face the rim, he released the ball.  As the clocked ticked down to zero, the ball dropped through.  Talor Battle had sent the game into overtime.  Not a bad time for his first bucket of the second half.

Once the game was in overtime, Penn State led wire to wire, outscoring George Mason 12 to 8 in the extra period to secure the win.

Playing without Jamelle Cornley, who reaggravated his separated shoulder 12 seconds into the second half, proved difficult for Penn State, who failed to establish a scoring rythym without their big body on the inside.  In fact, Penn State scored just 4 points in the first 7 minutes of the second half, which allowed George Mason to claw back into the game, and eventually take the lead.  For the last few minutes, the game was back and forth between the two teams, the lead changing with every made bucket.  And down the stretch, Mason extended the lead out to three, but the rest, as they say, is history.

Penn State came out red hot in the first half, scoring 38 points and shooting well over 50% from downtown.  And even though Cornley was available to Penn State for the first half, his offensive presence was as much a decoy as anything.  Cornley scored just 2 points on 1-5 shooting, and Stanley Pringle was largely invisible.  Talor Battle scored 13 in the first half, but it was the little guys, the role players who stepped up.  Andrew Jones found himself open under the net and put in a few lay-ups, Chris Babb hit a pair of threes, and Jeff Brooks looked like a solid player in the low post, hitting a couple jump hooks.  It was the kind of team performance that makes one optimistic going ahead to next season without Pringle or Cornley.  The Lions were hitting on all cylinders, and it looked like a sure win.

The second half struggles weren’t uncharacterstic, though.  As we’ve seen all season, this is a team that scores in bunches, and fails to score for long periods of time as well.  However, the defensive lapses can largely be traced back to Ed DeChellis.  With his best inside scorer out for the game, DeChellis tried to go small.  The lineup for much of the second half was Battle, Pringle, Babb, Jackson, and Brooks.  With such a small lineup out for Penn State, George Mason pounded the ball inside to their forwards, and Penn State was unable to respond.  The benching of Jones for periods of time was especially particular, as he was doing a fine job on both sides of the ball, scoring 11 points with 6 rebounds.  But in victory, all is forgotten.

This was a great game for the underclassmen.  In fact, the way Jeff Brooks looked tonight, scoring 13 points on 6-12 shooting and grabbing 5 rebounds, I’m less scared at the proposition of him replacing Cornley next year.  He did a lot of his scoring from the low block, and added a three pointer.  If he can just be more consistent, and not try to be the star, he’ll develop into a very nice complementary piece for Talor Battle.  Sure, that might not be what we expected when he signed on, but he’s failed to live up to expectations since arriving in Happy Valley, and has largely regressed this year.  If he can put it all together, there might not be such a drop-off next year.  Chris Babb added 11 points on 4-6 shooting, knocking down 3 of 4 threes.  He’s really gained a lot of confidence in that shot over the course of the season.

Next up is Rhode Island, one team that we can point to as the reason Penn State had to play today.  The Nittany Lions lost to Rhode Island in the Philly Hoop Group, which especially hurt because it cost them an RPI-boosting loss to Villanova.  Charlie will be live-blogging the game on Thursday live here at quebecpenspinning, so come here to chat about the game.

1st 2nd OT Final
George Mason 31 34 8 73
Penn State 38 27 12 77

And if you haven’t yet, be sure to join the quebecpenspinning bracket challenge for your shot to win a free ticket to the Penn State-Ohio State game this year!

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