After Penn State’s last home game students stormed the court for THON to raise over $12 million dollars, after tonight’s game, they stormed the court to celebrate the Nittany Lions first B1G win of the season. Penn State (8-19 overall, 1-14 B1G) knocked off heavily favored #4 Michigan (23-5, 10-5) 84-78 at University Park, ending their 18 game conference losing streak. It was the highest ranked opponent ever defeated by the Lions at the Bryce Jordan Center, and their first victory over a top five team since the Crispin brothers beat North Carolina in the 2001 NCAA tournament.
From the opening tip, both teams played intense basketball. The Wolverines, B1G conference’s youngest team, rode high flying Glenn Robinson III and big three point shots from Tim Hardaway, Jr and Trey Burke to an early 17-10 lead. Brandon Taylor was huge for the Nittany Lions early, though most of his efforts didn’t show in his final line (7 pts, 1 rebound). Taylor had a put back to close the margin to three, and then hit a three pointer to tie the game with 3:30 left in the first half.
Penn State used a combination of 3/4 and full court pressure to keep the game close until D.J. Newbill (17 points, 5 assists) hit two free throws to give the Lions a 34-32 lead. From that point on, it looked like Penn State was going to waste another good start and end up with a loss on Senior Night. After ending the first half with two turnovers, they allowed Michigan to open the second half on an 8-0 run. With 10:18 left in the game, Penn State trailed by 15.
Jermaine Marshall (25 points, 6-10 3pt FGs) took over from there, scoring 9 of the next 15 points. Marshall and Newbill are 2nd in the Big Ten in scoring backcourts (30.8 PPG), behind only Burke and Hardaway (34 PPG). When it mattered most, Marshall and Newbill put the Lions on their back. Marshall hit a three pointer to get them within seven, and the Newbill’s three got Penn State within five. Marshall capped a 23-8 run to tie the game at 74-74 with less than five minutes left. Trey Burke then had a costly turnover with 4:23 left; the country’s leader in turnover to assist ratio (4:1) ended up with six giveaways.
Marshall then benefited from a generous blocking call, hitting two free throws to give Penn State the lead. With the Bryce Jordan Center rocking at its loudest since GoGo Gadget, Penn State relied on free throws and an acrobatic layup by Marshall to close it out. Senior Sasa Borovnjak was responsible for three of the team’s last four made FTs and had nine points and five boards on the night. Penn State, who shot only 242 free throws in B1G play compared to 418 by its opponents, made 20-27 free throws (Michigan was 13-20).
Michigan, who has lost their last four road games in the B1G schedule, will try to rebound against top ten ranked Michigan State. Penn State travels to Minnesota, who just upset #1 Indiana, on March 2nd. They will travel to Minneapolis as underdogs once again but nobody will doubt their ability to pull off the upset after Wednesday night’s game. The Nittany Lions, a team who has been credited all season for playing hard while win after win escaped them, have finally gotten their first W of 2013.
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