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Lions Fall to Wolverines, Prepare for Rematch in MSG

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By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a thrilling first period of hockey, the No. 15 Penn State men's hockey team (16-6-3, 6-3-0 Big Ten) was unable to complete a third period come back and fell to No. 6 Michigan (15-3-4, 6-1-2 Big Ten) on Thursday night, 7-4. Up next for the Nittany Lions is a rematch in Madison Square Garden against the Wolverines on Saturday.

The first period of Thursday's game got off to an eager start, as both teams tirelessly fought for possession of the puck. Michigan found the back of the net first, but Penn State was not going to give up easily.

Thanks to a goal from freshman defenseman Vince Pedrie, the Nittany Lions ended the first period tied with the Wolverines, 2-2.

Although their third period comeback fell short, head coach Guy Gadowsky observed several favorable things about Thursday night's contest.

"What a tremendous crowd, it was great to see the white out," said head coach Guy Gadowsky.

Thursday night's game was easily the most enthusiastic atmosphere the Nittany Lions have played in all season, with cheers for the home team and taunts of the Wolverines tirelessly filling the arena throughout the game.

Gadowsky also noted his team's ability to skate with Michigan's unrelenting offense, a goal he had stated earlier in the week.

Up next for the Nittany Lions will be a much-anticipated rematch between Penn State and Michigan in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The team is eager to return to the ice and get back in the win column.

Gadowsky noted that although the team has a day in between, they won't necessarily be using the time to make significant changes to their strategy of play.

"This isn't the first time that we've lost a game and we have to come back, so no we're not going to change anything up, we're going to prepare like we can," said Gadowsky.

When asked about the significance of playing in Madison Square Garden and participating in a historic doubleheader on one of the biggest stages in sports, Gadowsky was eager to praise the opportunity his team has at hand.

"We're very excited, I think it's a great thing with the Big Ten, I mean we're really excited about not only playing Michigan hockey but our basketball program, it's going to be exciting," said Gadowsky.  

The Nittany Lions will be part of a double-header series on Saturday in Madison Square Garden. The Big Ten Super Saturday College Hoops & Hockey Doubleheader will feature Penn State taking on Michigan in basketball at noon, followed by Penn State hockey's rematch of Michigan at 7 p.m. Both games will be on the Big Ten Network.

Nittany Lions Looking Ahead to Madison Square Garden

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion basketball team (11-10, 2-6 Big Ten) will help christen an innovative concept inside Madison Square Garden when it meets Michigan (16-5, 6-2 Big Ten) in the Big Ten's first Super Saturday College Hoops & Hockey Doubleheader in Manhattan.

Taking the floor in The Garden for the first time since knocking off Baylor to win the 2009 NIT, the Lions will be looking to extend a five-game winning streak inside the "World's Most Famous Arena". Penn State has played 16 previous games inside MSG dating back to 1971.

"You should be fired up to play in a place like Madison Square Garden," said head coach Patrick Chambers. "You should be excited. There should be incredible energy. And hopefully we see that (on Saturday)."

Saturday's game will be a homecoming for senior Jordan Dickerson. The 7-foot-1 center hails from Brooklyn and will have a big cheering section on Saturday afternoon when the Lions and Wolverines meet at noon on BTN.

"It means a lot to go back home," said Dickerson. "I have a lot of family in New York, so it's going to be nice seeing them out in the stands rooting. My grandmother is going to be really excited. It definitely means a lot to play there."

The opportunity to step onto some of the most historic hardwood in the basketball world is truly a once in a college career opportunity for the Nittany Lions. The mystique and history of The Garden separates the venue from most places in the world.

"It's one of those places that means so much with all of the history," said senior Donovon Jack. "It's a big deal to be in New York City in that market. It's going to be a great experience for us all."

Chambers said that when discussions first began between Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Penn State he had a few reservations about giving up a home game. Penn State will play just eight Big Ten home games this year, instead of the usual nine.

And who can blame Coach Chambers for initially having second thoughts when you consider Penn State's recent history with Michigan in the BJC. The Nittany Lions topped the fourth-ranked Wolverines on Feb. 27, 2013 for the program's first top five victory since 2001.

"But I think the positives in these situations outweigh the negatives," said Chambers. "It's been a tough month for travel on these kids, and you feel for them. But I do think the experience is something that will last a lifetime. They will always remember (this), despite any outcomes."

The Wolverines head to Madison Square Garden riding a three-game winning streak. Michigan defeated Rutgers (68-57) in its most recent game. The Wolverines are 6-2 in the Big Ten, which includes a 70-67 victory over then-No. 3 Maryland. Michigan topped Penn State, 79-56, in the first meeting between the two teams.

The Wolverines are among the best teams in the nation in shooting from the perimeter. Michigan is No. 6 in three-point field goals made per game (10.8), No. 7 in three-point field goal percentage (41.8) and No. 8 in total number of three-point field goals made (216). Michigan is also superb at holding onto the basketball, ranking No. 8 nationally in turnovers per game (10.0) and assist-turnover ratio (1.61).

Sophomore Duncan Robinson enters the weekend as the team's active leading scorer at 12.6 points per game. Robinson is an elite three-point shooter, ranking No. 3 in the nation at 51 percent shooting clip from beyond the arc. Robinson is one of five Michigan players with 25 or more made three-point field goals this season.

Penn State and Michigan will meet for the fifth time in a neutral site environment. The Nittany Lions are 3-1 in neutral site games, with three of the four previous meetings coming at the Big Ten Tournament. The two teams also met in a neutral site game in Pittsburgh during the 1951-52 season.

Tickets are available for the Super Saturday Doubleheader through Ticketmaster and GoPSUsports.com (Click Here).

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (1/28/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome to live coverage from the 2015-16 Nittany Lion men's hockey season. Penn State opens a two-game series against No. 6 Michigan in the annual Pegula Ice Arena White Out.

Live Blog Men's Hockey Live Blog - Penn State vs. Michigan (1/28/16)


By Zach Reagan, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With two solid indoor performances in the books, the Penn State track and field team is ready to compete in one of the finest collegiate indoor meets in the country, this weekend's Penn State National.


The Nittany Lions have performed well and have notched numerous significant feats so far this season. One of the keys to success lies in the team's depth and competitive theme. Head coach John Gondak mentioned after Penn State's last meet that the team's success isn't only about the team's top athletes. Instead, it's all a product of the hard working members of the team that continue to push one another to get better during training. It's a process that has worked for the Nittany Lions and it's been showing in both the track and field events.


Penn State's team depth is noticeable on both the men's and women's teams. Thirteen women's events and ten men's events are in the top 30 among all NCAA performances.


In the first two meets, Penn State athletes have won a total of 30 individual event titles and have broken four school records, including Brannon Kidder's all-time NCAA record in the 1,000-meter. Sophomore Xavier Smith (Douglassville, Pa.) (60-meter), senior Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) (1,000-meter), senior Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) (1,000-meter) and junior Lexi Masterson (Jeannette, Pa.) (pole vault) have all broken school records so far this season.


Also, in the first couple weeks of the season, Lexi Masterson and Brannon Kidder earned Big Ten Athletes of the Week accolades.


At the global level, during the Jan. 9 Penn State Relays, Penn State became home to the fastest men's and women's 4x800-meter relays in the world, as the relay of junior Julie Kocjancic (Pittsburgh, Pa.), sophomore Victoria Crawford (State College, Pa.), sophomore Elizabeth Chikotas (Hellertown, Pa.), and senior Tori Gerlach (Perkasie, Pa.) combined to post a world leading time of 8:45.85 -- missing the school record of 8:45.60 set in 1984 by 0.25 seconds. For the men, the 4x800-meter relay of sophomore Jordan Makins (Perth, Australia), sophomore Bobby Hill (Wellsbroro, Pa.), freshman Isaiah Harris (Lewiston, Maine), and senior Brannon Kidder (Lancaster, Ohio) recorded their world leading time of 7:25.28.


Penn State looks to keep building on these early season highlights. This weekend will be a special opportunity for the Nittany Lions to add more standout performances to the growing list of personal bests, meet records and school records. With a wealth of nationally ranked teams coming to Happy Valley, Penn State will get a chance to see how they match up with some of country's best.


As for the two-day Penn State National, it starts Friday at noon and continues Saturday at 11 a.m. for track events and noon for field events at the Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track. Among the 38 teams competing in the meet are nationally ranked No. 4 Virginia Tech, No. 14 Stanford, No. 21 Penn State and No. 23 Georgetown on the men's side, and No. 10 Georgetown, No. 14 Stanford and No. 25 Akron one the women's side.


The Penn State National will be streamed live on Flotrack.org, users must have a FloPro account to access the video.


For more on Nittany Lion track and field, log onto www.GoPSUsports.com or follow the team on Twitter @PennStateTFXC.


By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Athletes are creatures of habit. They almost have to be. Anytime you perform the same motion, whether it be shooting a basketball, kicking a soccer ball, or taking a slap shot in hockey, you have to repeat the same thing over and over. Many athletes take this concept and practice it off the court, field, or ice. Pregame rituals are a big part of the sports world and the Nittany Lion women's hockey team is no different when it comes to this.

Hours before the puck drops, all is silent at Pegula Ice Arena. The arena staff is making the last minute preparations to the ice and others are preparing to open the front doors. At this same time, you will also find some of the Nittany Lion players in the stands behind their home bench. For them, this is one of the many pregame rituals that they practice.

"I always tape my stick before a game," said senior captain Shannon Yoxheimer. "Whether I actually need to or not, I still do, just because that's always how I have been doing it."

For some it is as simple as taping their sticks. Be it in the stands or in the locker room, that seems to be a common routine for many players. Yoxheimer says that some people ae very particular and like to tape their own sticks, while others prefer if someone tapes it for them. For other players, like junior defenseman Kelly Seward, her pregame ritual involves a snack.

"Some people like to play soccer or do something active before the game," said Seward. "I just like to grab a couple snacks and relax. I usually have the same thing before every game, they are these little smoothie packets."

Seward also says that she gets dressed right at the 54 minute mark before the game and says he has been doing that for years now. But her dressing 54 minutes before the game is nothing compared to teammate Micayla Catanzariti, who gets dressed very early according to both her teammates and coach.

"Micayla always gets dressed really really early," said Seward. "You can always see her well before the game with her big headphones on just getting in the zone."

While many of the players on the team choose to partake in their own unique pregame rituals, the Penn State women's hockey team also has some routines that include the majority, if not everyone on the team. Before every Friday contest, the team has a pregame meal ritual.

"Well we go to Allen Street Grill every Friday at 2:15," said Seward. "I think that is our team time to get together and get ready. After that I think everyone pretty much goes back, gets a nap in and relaxes."

Another, possibly less unique, but still equally vital part of every game day, is coffee. Both the team and head coach Josh Brandwene voiced that coffee is essentially in providing a little extra boost before games. 

"Coffee is a big part of the routine for me," said Brandwene. "It's all about the timing of caffeine intake. It's different timing for a seven o'clock start than for a two o'clock start. And after the game you have a night of film review, so by the time Saturday rolls around caffeine kind of becomes a best friend."

Yoxheimer had a similar reaction, saying that the majority of the team, to her knowledge, uses coffee as an energy booster on game day.

"I always get a coffee before games," said Yoxheimer. "I think that's kind of standard and the norm for almost everyone on our team."

Whether it being playing soccer in a small group, or re-taping a stick before the game, the Penn State women's hockey team participates in many unique pregame rituals. At times it is the whole team together and at times it is simply something unique that an individual has been doing for years. Either way, for Penn State women's hockey, the pregame routine is just another part of the game. 

Competitiveness and Depth a Recipe for Success for Nittany Lions

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By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The mark of a great team isn't necessarily how much star power it has. Sure, having a superstar boosts your chances of winning games just because of talent alone, but the mark of a true team is felt through their eagerness and willingness to battle every time they step out on to the court.

For the Penn State men's volleyball team, this type of competitive nature has already been prescribed by head coach Mark Pavlik as the team's DNA.

"We find a way to win," said Pavlik. "That seems to be this team's trademark right now. They are as competitive as any body and they are going to scratch and claw and do whatever it takes to win matches."

That competitiveness was one of the primary factors in Penn State's straight set victory against IPFW last Saturday. The Nittany Lions seemed to be off their game from the moment the first ball was served, up until the midway point in the second set. However, it was their competitiveness that kept them a float and gave them a chance to figure things out.

"Against Fort Wayne, in that first set, we just didn't have it," said Pavlik. "But the guys kept fighting and we found a way to get out of it and then we started playing better from there."

Redshirt sophomore Jalen Penrose echoes his coach's thoughts on the team's competitiveness being a key for them in every match.

"We just want to work hard at all times," said Penrose. We know if we stay in that mindset, no matter how bad we play we will be a tough team to handle."

Not only was the competiveness of the Nittany Lions on hand during the match on Saturday, but also the team depth was thrust in to the spotlight. Andrew Roberts, normally known as a service specialist, was placed in the outside hitter role and rose to the occasion. Roberts finished with nine kills was one of the sparks that propelled the Nittany Lions to victory.

"Andrew has been asked to go in and serve in multiple national championships," said Pavlik. "He has seen a lot of things and he has the experience just about anywhere on the court to get things done."

The performance from Roberts is typical of the norm on this Penn State team. Team depth is something that Pavlik knows can be used as a strength and also something members of the team realize can be very beneficial on any given night.

"It's nice to have depth because if anyone isn't having a great day, no one else is worried," said Penrose. "No matter who comes out on the floor we know the play level and competitiveness doesn't drop off because some parts change."

Roberts is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Penn State's depth. The Nittany Lions boast a plethora of players on the bench who provided an experienced presence on the court. Aidan Albrecht is another Penn Stater who has, in just a few short years on the team, already gained more experience than many players do at his age.

"Aidan is another guy for us who has really stepped up at times," said Pavlik. "He was asked to step in and play middle last year and he did so pretty well. He wont be thrust into situation and say 'hey I haven't been here before' and I think that really pays off for us."

While Penn State has a lot of young experience on the bench, they also have an even younger, possibly less experienced presence on the court night in and night out. Royce Clemens, who has been starting at libero all season for the Nittany Lions, has been thrown right into the fire since he arrived at Penn State. Five of the freshman's first six games in collegiate volleyball have been against team ranked inside the top 15. Pavlik believes that this experience has been invaluable for Clemens and that it will pay off down the road.

"I think that has been immensely beneficial for him," said Pavlik. "Not only in gaining the experience playing against some of the physical team's that we have played against, but also gaining his personal confidence. Royce just keeps going out there and getting better and better every day."

The length of each season presents each individual athlete with a chance to step up and help his time. For Roberts, it very well may have been Saturday, but for other players that time has yet to come, but Pavlik says that it certainly will for each and every one of his players.

"I don't think I have ever coached a year where it has been the same seven guys out on the court night in and night out," said Pavlik. "At some point in the year, everyone is going to get called upon and that's something that we try and get across to them. That's why we say you have to be ready every day in practice and never think that you won't be coming in the game at some point."

Setter Taylor Hammond also echoed the team's ability to plug in pieces when needed and produce a complete effort. After last Saturday's match, when IPFW targeted Hammond with the majority of their serves, he commented on how well his teammates on the floor filled in for his role when he couldn't.

"We knew that their opposite was going to serve at me," said Hammond. "A lot of the guys like Matt [Callaway] and Chris [Nugent] did a good job providing those second contacts when I could, it speaks to how well balanced we are."

With the Nittany Lions not only able to produce a high quality caliber of volleyball off the bench, but also to be able to count on the players on the court to fill different roles, the team has a multitude of weapons at their disposal. The depth and competitiveness of the team seems to be their calling cards this season and according to Pavlik and his players, that's going to serve them well down the road.

Penn State will take on Saint Francis this Friday on the road. First serve is slated for just after 7 p.m.

Focus Key to Nittany Lions Finding Success at Home

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11644039.jpeg By Mandy Bell, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERISTY PARK, Pa. - After the team's first away meet of the season was canceled this past weekend, the Nittany Lion women's gymnastics team shifts focus to its matchup against the Illinois on Friday in Penn State's third-straight home meet this season. 

"Everyone was so looking forward to getting off campus, going to someone else's arena and competing," head coach Jeff Thompson said.  "The experience in the bus, at the hotel, at the restaurant and in some locker room we've never been before, that's where a team really starts to come together. Then it got canceled and that was a big let down."

Penn State (0-2, 0-1 B1G) was looking to get away from the home crowd and pick up its first win of the season on the road.  The Nittany Lions were hoping to escape some of the added pressure of performing in front of the home crowd in Maryland this past Sunday. 

"When you compete at home, they might feel different than they would on the road.  When you're on the road you don't know anybody.  You go out there, you just let it all hang out and if something happens bad so what? Some other people saw you had a mistake," Thompson said. "But when you're at home, all these people from psychology class are here and this professor, parents and grandparents.  They sometimes try harder."

Because of the cancellation, the Nittany Lions have not competed since their last meet against Nebraska, nearly two weeks ago.  Thompson thought that this week may be a challenge, but he thinks the team is prepared from extra practice for the meet on Friday.

"We are trying to focus on the process of performing the routine and not the result," Thompson said.  "When you try not to fall, generally you're going to fall because you're thinking about the wrong thing. You're thinking about the result."

A gymnast must practice in a meet-like setting in order to escape the comfort of the practice gym. The event that has put the most pressure on the Nittany Lions thus far has been the balance beam.  Thompson wanted to come up with a way to add the same pressure that comes along with a meet when performing on the beam in practice.

Thompson set up an inner-squad scrimmage when the cancellation of the Maryland meet occurred and figured out a way to put some pressure on his gymnastics by telling them that six of seven gymnasts needed to hit their routines in order to have an off-day on Monday. 

"Those kind of teaching moments are hard to create.  Two of the freshmen fell, everyone else hit," Thompson said.  "Everybody looked like they were doing 'meet beam' not 'in-the-gym beam', so it did have an effect and I think it moves them closer to being comfortable for when they compete."

The Nittany Lions have not practiced any differently preparing for their matchup against Illinois than they have for their other meets.  Thompson believes that having the same mindset going into each meet, despite the opponent, is the key to success for a gymnast.

"Having a ritual that they do helps them learn how to get comfortable, so if you change it every week and its always different they might not ever get as comfortable as they would if you kept everything the same," Thompson said. "I mean some people might say I'm crazy for doing that."

Penn State looks to pick up its first win of the season this Friday.  Just like he has all season, Thompson preached to his team all week to focus on only three things entering the meet.

"One thing is we are going to remind them to be where their feet are, number two is to focus on the process of the routine," Thompson said. "And third and final is to go out there and have fun." 

The Penn State Nittany Lions will host the Illinois Fighting Illini at 7 p.m. on Friday in Rec Hall.      


Mike Gilbert, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Usually, it's Penn State's guard play that provides the spark for the Lady Lions.  But forwards Candice Agee and Peyton Whitted worked hard all night despite losing to Maryland 89-53 Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.  Whitted was physical down low, hitting the ten-rebound mark despite fouling out in the third quarter.  Meanwhile, Agee did some work on the offensive side, dropping 8 points and showing that Penn State's bigs can contribute on both ends of the floor.  Whitted has a gameplan for grabbing boards the next time her team hits the floor. 

 "Just get more rebounds, keep being more aggressive and carry that over to the next game," she said.

Coach Coquese Washington was happy with the way Agee and Whitted performed tonight and the fact that they continued to work hard late in the second half. 

"Certainly there are some good things we saw from our post players tonight and we're going to continue to try to work on that and build on that," Washington said following the game.

Having three more than capable bigs in Agee, Whitted and Ashanti Thomas, who pulled down five rebounds in the contest, will help with the already strong guard play from Brianna Banks, Teniya Page and Lindsey Spann.

Freshman guard also Sarah McMurty got in on the fun in the final minutes, hitting the first bucket of her career in Happy Valley, knocking down a three-pointer late in the game.  That brought out a loud cheer from the crowd and the Penn State bench.

"It was great, she works hard and she's a great shooter and I thought she came in and did some good things," said Whitted.

Now sitting at 3-6 in conference, the Blue and White are in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.  But that could change, starting with a game this Saturday against the Boilermakers of Purdue.  That game will be at home on Saturday at 2 p.m.  Washington was clear at the end of her postgame press conference that her team would be ready.

"We'll be ready for Purdue."

Already looking forward to the next game, if Penn State can find the right balance between the talented guard play along with strong efforts from the post players down low, that could be a dangerous combination for any Big Ten conference foe. 



VIDEO: This Week In Penn State Wrestling - Nico Megaludis (1/27/16)

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 1-ranked Nittany Lion wrestling team (11-0, 6-0 Big Ten) returns to Rec Hall on Sunday for a 2 p.m. bout against No. 10 Michigan (9-1, 4-0 Big Ten).

GoPSUsports.com caught up with senior Nico Megaludis this week to talk about his season to date. Megaludis is 20-1 on the season and ranked No. 4 at 125 pounds.

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Men's Hoops Adding to MSG History on Saturday

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11642021.jpegUNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Nearly seven years have passed since a memorable spring evening inside Madison Square Garden for the Nittany Lion basketball team.

Penn State will return to The Garden on Saturday for the first time since knocking off Baylor in the 2009 NIT title game.

Saturday's return will be a treat for Penn State fans when the Nittany Lion men's hockey and hoops teams compete in a day-night doubleheader at MSG against Michigan (Basketball at 12 p.m.; Hockey at 7 p.m.).

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany made the hockey-hoops doubleheader announcement on Dec. 9, 2014, with Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour among the attendees inside MSG.

"Any time the Penn State nation has the opportunity to come to New York is always an exciting time. And the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden is something I think our student-athletes will really enjoy, as will our community," said Barbour.

With approximately 32,000 Penn State alums in the New York City, Saturday provides a great opportunity for the local fans to Penn State teams in action at "The World's Most Famous Arena". Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and GoPSUsports.com (Click Here).

On the hardwood, the Nittany Lions will be making their 17th appearance in the current Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968. Penn State is 10-6 all-time at MSG. The Lions have won five-straight games held in Madison Square Garden.

Penn State Men's Basketball at MSG
1971-72 - 12/27/71 - vs. Providence, L 81-65 (ECAC Holiday Classic)
1971-72 - 12/28/71 - vs. Utah, W 80-69 (ECAC Holiday Classic)
1971-72 - 12/29/71 - vs. Syracuse, L 92-77 (ECAC Holiday Classic)
1975-76 - 2/28/76 - vs. Fairfield, W 76-68
1989-90 - 3/26/90 - vs. Vanderbilt, L 75-62 (NIT)
1989-90 - 3/28/90 - vs. New Mexico, W 83-81 (OT) (NIT)
1994-95 - 3/27/95 - vs. Marquette, L 87-79 (NIT)
1994-95 - 3/29/95 - vs. Canisius, W 66-62 (NIT)
1997-98 - 3/24/98 - vs. Georgia, W 66-60 (NIT)
1997-98 - 3/26/98 - vs. Minnesota, L 79-72 (NIT)
1999-00 - 3/28/00 - vs. Notre Dame, L 73-52 (NIT)
1999-00 - 3/30/00 - vs. North Carolina State, W 74-72 (NIT)
2000-01 - 12/26/00 - vs. Princeton, W 65-52 (ECAC Holiday Classic)
2000-01 - 12/27/00 - vs. Hofstra, W 74-71 (ECAC Holiday Classic)
2008-09 - 3/31/09 - vs. Notre Dame, W 67-59 (NIT)
2008-09 - 4/2/09 - vs. Baylor, W 69-63 (NIT)

All-Time MSG Record - 10-6

11642019.jpeg Looking Back at the 2009 NIT Crown
Below is review of Penn State's 69-63 victory over Baylor en route to the program's first NIT championship during the 2008-09 season. Take a look back at a memorable Penn State night in New York City.

Lions Capture Program's First National Tournament Title in MSG

NEW YORK, April 2, 2009 - With a chorus of cheers from 36 bus loads of fans ringing down on them and a who's who of Penn State dignitaries in the stands, members of the Nittany Lion basketball team left the Madison Square Garden floor as no other had before in program history, as national tournament champions.


Playing the gritty, energized, relentless basketball it used all season to record a school-record win total, Penn State (27-11) posted a 69-63 victory over Baylor (24-15) in the National Invitation Tournament Championship game in New York City to complete a story book season of program firsts and claim just the second post-season tournament title in program history and first since the 1991 A-10 tournament crown.


"You don't know what it's going to be like when you go into it," senior Jamelle Cornley said with a wide smile and tear-swollen eyes. "The last time I cut down the nets was the state championship my freshman year of high school. To cut down some more nets in my last game is just an unbelievable feeling."


Cornley, who led Penn State with 18 points and seven rebounds, was named the NIT MVP despite playing the last three games of the tournament with his partially separated left shoulder tightly wrapped. One of four seniors who left the floor for the final time with a win and helped Penn State to log victories in 10 of its last 13 games, Cornley will leave an indelible mark on the Nittany Lion program for his production on the court and his emotional leadership on and off it. The 6-5, 245-pound forward who was told he was undersized by most major programs, ends his career as the Penn State's fourth all-time leading scorer (1,579) and rebounder (756).


Fellow seniors Stanley Pringle (10 points) and Danny Morrissey (nine points) also had big nights. Morrissey canned three big threes and epitomized the all-out effort of the Lions when he suffered a split lip and mild concussion while diving headlong for a loose ball with just over two minutes to play. The Lions third all-time three-point shooter ended his career with 221 treys.


"We have tough kids," said Penn State coach Ed DeChellis who was congratulated on the court by legendary Nittany Lion football coach Joe Paterno and NFL Hall of Famer Franco Harris. "We're going to compete. That's been our trademark all year. That play typifies what our team has been like all year."


Sophomore Talor Battle, who was also named to the All-tournament team, added 12 points (all in the second half), seven assists and six boards and ended the year with the Penn State single-season assist record with 189 and the Lions' fifth-best ever single season scoring mark with 635 points. Sophomore David Jackson added 10 points as the Lions shot 54 percent in the second half and out-rebounded the taller Bears 36-29, including 12 offensive boards.

After trailing 29-25 at halftime, the Nittany Lions mounted a 7-1 surge to open the second half on the way to a 32-30. The partisan Penn State crowd roared, and the Nittany Lions never looked back on the way to hoisting a trophy and cutting down the nets in "The World's Most Famous Arena".

Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony