Nittany Lions Give No. 6 Purdue A Fight Before Falling, 64-60

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Chris Babb

Chris Babb

March 6, 2010

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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., March 6, 2010 - For the second time in two days, the Nittany Lion basketball team took a top 15 team to the wire before running out of gas. This time No. 6 Purdue held of an 11-3 Penn State charge, that had the Lions down one with 18 seconds to play, to capture a 64-60 victory and a piece of the Big Ten regular season championship Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Penn State got 17 points from Talor Battle, who missed the last seven minutes of the game with dizziness, sickness and leg cramps, and 17 from Chris Babb, who hit four threes for the third-straight game, in its final regular season game. Jeff Brooks added 12 points and seven rebounds in his third-straight double-digit outing as the Nittany Lions finished 11-19 (3-15 Big Ten) and prepare for the 13th Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis next week.

Penn State will have the No. 11 seed in the tournament and will play their opening game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday vs. either Minnesota or Michigan, both of which play Sunday and could potentially grab the No. 6 seed. The Golden Gophers (8-9) play Iowa in Minneapolis while Michigan (7-10) plays at Michigan State on Sunday. Michigan would win a tie-breaker if the two teams finish with the same conference record.

"I told the kids after the game that we played Ohio State here and gave ourselves a chance, we went on the road to Michigan State and gave ourselves a chance and then this one here today," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "They've fought through things like adversity. I think there's a fiber there, a good fiber of some character. It hasn't been easy. Our kids have hung in there and they continue to fight and give us great effort. For that, I'm proud of them."

Purdue (26-4; 14-4 Big Ten) got 21 points and 10 rebounds from JaJuan Johnson and 17 points and five threes from Keaton Grant and used their perimeter pressure to force 15 turnovers, scoring 18 points off those.

 

 

Both team shot 52 percent (12-23) in the second half, but the Nittany Lions struggled from the floor in the first 20 minutes hitting just 30 percent to find themselves down eight at the half.

Purdue extended that lead to 13 just under seven minutes into the second half as the Boilers posted a 12-3 capped by a pair of highlight reel dunks from Johnson. The last, which came after a Chris Kramer steal, saw Johnson soar down the lane and throw down a two-handed rim rattler that gave Purdue a 44-31 lead.

Penn State, as it did just 41 hours before at Michigan State, refused to go quietly. Battle dropped a pair of free throws and freshman point-guard Tim Frazier, who posted five assists in 20 minutes, hit a jumper to get the Lions within nine.

Following a Kelsey Barlow stuff on a put-back, Battle hit a jumper off an assist from Frazier and then fed Drew Jones for a lay-up that got the Lions within seven.

Barlow got another follow and Grant hit one of his five threes to rebuild the lead to 12, 51-39, with 8:43 to play.

Penn State rallied again. Babb buried a three, Jones got a jumper and David Jackson hit a pair at the line for a 7-0 run that got the Lions within five, 51-46. But, Penn State saw it's leading scorer leave the floor shortly there after and he didn't return.

"He was very light-headed and very dizzy," DeChellis said. "He just felt horrible. He thought he was going to vomit and all of that kind of stuff, so he was back there with the doctor for the last five or six minutes.

After four-straight from Purdue, Brooks took a feed from Frazier and completed an and-one lay-up to slash the lead back to six, 55-49, with 5:13 to go. Grant again answered with a three and Purdue led by nine.

Penn State came back scoring the next six points, the last five coming on a Babb three and a Jones lay-up off a feed from Frazier to get within three, 58-55, with 2:45 to play. With the crowd anticipating an upset, the Lions played good defense as the Boilers shot clock ran down only to see E'Twaun Moore bank in a three in a closing seconds for a 61-55 lead with a minute to go.

Frazier missed on the other end and Penn State committed three straight fouls to get into the bonus. Purdue inbounded and Frazier picked Kramer's pocket, drove the lane and fed Brooks for a two-handed dunk that cut the lead to four. The Lions sent Grant to the line where he missed the front-end. Grant then fouled Babb on a three-point attempt on the other end and the sophomore buried all three at the line to cut the lead to one, 61-60, with 18 seconds to play.

The Lions sent Moore to the foul line where he hit both to put the Boiler up 63-60. The Lions set up a Babb three, but his fade-away at the top of key came up short. Johnson hit a pair at the line for Purdue to cap the scoring as the Boilermakers escaped.

The Lions went to the half down eight, 30-22, following a David Jackson three in the closing seconds. The Lions trailed by as many as 11 on a couple of occasions in the half as they struggled shooting 30 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three. Battle lead the way hitting 4-of-6 for 10 points, but the rest of the Lions went just 4-of-20 from the field.

Purdue came out blazing hitting seven of their first 10 to take and 18-7 lead following an 8-0 run that included a pair of threes from Grant. Grant ended the half 3-of-5 from three to lead the Boilers with 11 points. Johnson added 10 points and eight rebounds shooting 6-of-8 at the line as he dominated the paint.

Purdue ripped the Lions man-to-man defense in the opening minutes, but Penn State switched to a 2-3 zone that clogged the paint and forced outside jumpers that slowed Purdue which closed the half 45 percent from the floor and 33 percent from three.

Penn State got the crowd going when Tim Frazier got a steal and fed Battle for a one-handed jam. A 25-foot three from Chris Babb and bucket from Jeff Brooks got the Lions within six, 20-14, midway through the half. Lewis Jackson answered with a three. Penn State got back within six on Battles second three of the half, but Grant answered with a three and drive for a lay-up to put the Boilers up 30-19 before Jackson closed the half with his top of the key three.

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