UNIVERSITY PARK, CENTRE COUNTY - In a game that saw 18 lead changes, Traevon Jackson's buzzer beating three staved off Penn State's bid for a Top 25 upset for the second straight week and secured a 63-60 win for No. 22 Wisconsin (21-20, 12-6 Big Ten) Sunday in the Bryce Jordan Center. Despite the loss, Penn State (10-20; 2-16 Big Ten), which had won two of its previous three, closed out the regular season playing it best basketball of the season as the Lions head to the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in Chicago, Ill., starting Thursday.
"I really felt like we earned the right to win this one," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "That's why this one hurts, because they did everything to earn it for the last few days and all year long. To lose on that type of shot, you feel for them."
More than 50 returning lettermen on Alumni Day at the BJC saw junior Jermaine Marshall (Etters, Pa.) lead Penn State with 23 points and sophomore D.J. Newbill (Philadelphia, Pa.) post 22 to spearhead the Penn State effort. Marshall's fifth 20-point game of the season and Newbill's ninth nearly saw the Lions knock off at Top 25 team for the second straight home game after downing No. 4 Michigan in their last BJC appearance.
"Jermaine and D.J. had hot hands and they took good shots and mostly high percentage shots," Chambers said. "With the way that Wisconsin defends you, they want you to shoot mid-range floaters and jumpers. Jermaine and D.J. are very good mid-range shooters, so let's take what they give us and I think that's what they did a very good job of."
Sophomore Ross Travis (Chaska, Minn.) had a game-high 11 rebounds and Newbill led the team in assists with five as Penn State won the rebounding battle 31-28 and committed just six turnovers. For the fifth time in the last six games Penn State shot at least 43 percent (23-of-53) from the field.
Wisconsin also shot 43 percent (22-of-51) from the field and was 33 percent (7-of-21) from three-point range, including a 3-for-3 effort from Jackson who scored 13 of his team-high 15 points in the second half. Sam Dekker added 14 and Jared Berggren a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Badgers who shot 50 percent in the second half to pull out the win.
Penn State outscored the Badgers in the paint 30-20, off turnovers 12-6, and in second chance opportunities 6-2. Wisconsin's bench outscored the Nittany Lions 17-3. Foul trouble limited second half minutes for both Marshall and senior Nick Colella (New Castle, Pa.).
"Call me crazy, and I know you have, but I don't want the season to end," Chambers said. "We're starting to figure some things out and they're starting to play hard and together. D.J. looks like a solid point-guard, Jermaine's playing at a high level, Sasa at a high level, Ross, Nick, they're doing a great job. I'm excited for next week."
Coming out of halftime Penn State had a slim 25-24 lead until a jumper from Jackson put Wisconsin ahead, 26-25. The lead changed hands two more times before two free throws by Travis and two from Colella moved the Lions on top, 31-28, by the 16:17 mark.
Two minutes later a trey from Wisconsin's Ben Brust, who had 13 points, gave Wisconsin a two-point lead, 35-33. Newbill fired back with a three of his own giving the Lions the advantage, 36-35, before an 8-2 Badger run had Wisconsin in front by five, 43-38. Two foul shots from Newbill had the Lions within three, 43-40, before a layup from senior Sasa Borovnjak (Belgrade, Serbia) and a three from Marshall pushed Penn State into the lead by two, 45-43, with 9:04 to play.
The game saw four more lead changes and two ties over the next four minutes. Wisconsin regained the lead on a dunk from Berggren and pushed its margin to four, 58-54, with Jackson three with 2:02 left in the game.
Penn State narrowed the gap to two twice during the final two minutes before a second chance 15-foot jumper from Newbill knotted the score at 60-60 with five seconds on the clock. Colella nearly stole Wisconsin's inbounds pass, but a tie-up sent the ball back to the Badgers with three seconds on the clock. Wisconsin inbounded to Jackson who pushed up the far sideline and sank a 25-foot three-pointer just before time ran out to secure the win for the Badgers.
Penn State was 12-of-27 (.444) from the field in the second half, including making 2-of-5 (.400) three-point attempts. The Lions were an impressive 9-for-11 (.818) at the foul line. Wisconsin hit 12-of-24 (.500), including five of their seven three pointers, in the second half. They went 10-for-12 (.833) from the free throw line.
The Nittany Lions fell behind by eight in the first two minutes of the game before a three-pointer from Marshall put the Lions on the board at the 17:19 mark. Wisconsin increased its lead to nine, 14-5, after back-to-back buckets. Newbill scored on a jumper, but a layup from Jackson had the Badgers back ahead by nine, 16-7, with a little more than 13 minutes left in the half.
Two Nittany Lion baskets, one each from Newbill and Borovnjak, pulled the Lions within five with 11:45 to play, but Borovnjak picked up his second foul shortly there after which would limit his minutes the rest of the half and hence the Lions' offense.
Despite a Badger basket from Dekker, sophomore Jon Graham (Baltimore, Md.) helped sparked a 10-0 Penn State run giving the Nittany Lions a three-point lead, 21-18, with 5:34 to play in the half. Two straight Wisconsin baskets moved the Badgers back on top 22-21, but four points from Newbill returned control to the Lions as Penn State moved ahead by three, 25-22, with less than a minute remaining. Wisconsin narrowed the gap to one, 25-24, with two free throws Mike Bruesewitz before time ran out.
Penn State will be the No. 12 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play in the No. 12 vs. No. 5 game at approximately 2:30 p.m. (ET) on Thursday in the United Center in Chicago. The Lions opponent will be Michigan. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
--From PSU Athletic Communications
(Select video courtesy Big Ten Network)