Nittany Lions Top Gophers in Regular Season Finale
March 6, 2011
Lions will be No. 6 seed in Big Ten Tournament, face No. 11 seed Indiana Thursday
Minneapolis, Minn., March 6, 2011 - Penn State (16-13: 9-9 Big Ten) got 20-point games and clutch threes from Talor Battle and Jeff Brooks to down Minnesota (17-13; 6-12 Big Ten), 66-63, Sunday in Minneapolis, the Nittany Lions first win at Williams Arena since 2001.
Battle posted a game-high 22 points for the Lions and his fade-away three with 1:37 to play gave the Lions a 59-57 lead. Brooks posted 20 points and seven rebounds and his three with 57 seconds left broke a 59-59 tie to give the Lions a 62-59 edge. Penn State hit 12-of-12 at the foul line and six straight in the final two minutes to hold on for their first victory at Minnesota since 2001.
The win puts Penn State in a tie fourth in the final Big Ten standings matching the program's second highest Big Ten finish ever. The Nittany Lions also finished in a tie for fourth in 2009 under Ed DeChellis and posted a program-best second place finish in 1996. Due to tiebreakers, Penn State will be the sixth seed in the 2011 Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis next week and face No. 11 seed Indiana in the first round on Thursday.
The Lions broke a string of eight-straight losses in Minneapolis and posted just the program's second win ever in 18 trips there. It marked the third Big Ten road win of the year equaling a program record set six other times and now for the third time under DeChellis.
Battle became just the third player in NCAA Division I history to post at least 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 500 assists in the game as he joined Duke's Danny Ferry and Maryland's Grevis Vasquez. Battle's 15th 20-point game of the season and 45th of his career pushed his career scoring total to 2,119, 20 shy of eclipsing the 56-year-old all-time scoring mark of 2,138 set by Jesse Arnelle in 1955. Battle moved into 16th all-time on the Big Ten scoring charts passing A.J. Guyton (IU) and Roy Marble (IA).
Minnesota was led by 17 points from Rodney Williams and 10 points and 14 rebounds from Trevor Mbakwe. Penn State overcame an 18-11 rebounding deficit in the first half to win the rebounding battle 31-28, 20-10 in the second half. Sophomore guard Tim Frazier helped lead the way tying Brooks with a team-high seven boards and adding seven points and six assists.
Minnesota used an 11-5 run after halftime to turn a 33-30 Penn State lead a the break into a 41-38 Gopher edge following a Ralph Sampson dunk with 15:55 to play. The Gophers led 43-40 when Penn State strung together 12-1 run over four minutes to take a 52-44 lead with 11:12 to play.
Battle made three buckets, including a three, for seven points in the run and Brooks logged the other five on a jumper and a three. But, the Lions scored just two points, getting a short jumper from Jermaine Marshall, in the next nine minutes to allow the Gophers to creep back in the game.
A hook from Colton Iverson and a Hoffarber jumper cut the Lion lead to two, 54-52, with 3:52 to play and a Williams jumper with 2:38 to play tied the game at 54.
Penn State got an answer from David Jackson who grabbed a Marshall miss and was fouled. He hit two at the line to put the Lions up 56-54.
Hoffarber scored on a back-cut on the other end and was fouled. He made the free throw for a 57-56 Gopher lead with 1:48 left. Battle answered silencing the crowd with a fade-away three from the left side.
Hoffarber answered with a jumper to tie the game at 59 with 1:23 to play. Penn State worked the ball around with crisp passes until Frazier found Brooks at the top of the key. The senior nailed the three to put the Lions up 62-59 with under a minute to play.
Williams was fouled by Drew Jones on the other end and made one free throw to bring the Gophers within two and Minnesota grabbed the rebound on his miss of the second with 46 seconds to play. But, they couldn't convert and turned the ball over on a Chip Armelin foul.
The Gophers sent Frazier to the line and he calmly sank two to make it 64-60. Hoffarber buried a three to cut the lead to one, 64-63, with 14 seconds to play and the Gophers sent Battle to the line. The much improved free throw shooter swished both to make it 66-63. Hoffarber's desperation three at the buzzer came up short.
Minnesota started the game with a strong man-to-man defense, a change from the 2-3 zone they played in State College, and used a 7-0 run to take and early eight-point lead, 14-6, following a Rodney Williams dunk and Hoffarber three.
Penn State quickly answered running off 11-straight points to quiet a William's Arena crowd and take a 17-14 lead following a Tim Frazier lay-up. A pair of Battle free throws started the run as the Lions leading scorer got on the board. Freshman Jermaine Marshall following with a baseline jumper and then Battle dropped one of his two first half threes to make it 14-13 Minnesota.
Battle drew contact and downed a pair of free throws to give the Lions their first lead, 15-14, before Frazier finished the run.
A Trevor Mbakwe dunk snapped the Penn State run, but the Lions appeared in control the rest of the half. A Frazier lead pushed the Penn State lead to four, 20-16, before Minnesota got back within one on an Austin Hollin free throw with under seven to play in the half.
Battle hit a high arching three to push the Penn State lead back to four, 23-19, and Marshall got a lay-up to push the margin to six.
Brooks scored Penn State's final eight points of the half hitting on drives, short hooks and a nice step-back three, the last of which gave the Lions a 33-28 lead. Ralph Sampson hit a final baseline jumper for the Gophers to make the margin 33-30 at the half.
Penn State shot 47 percent in the first half led by 10 points from Battle and Brooks. The Gophers managed just 38 percent shooting but won the rebounding battle 18-11 and got seven first half points from Williams.
Penn State will head to the 14th Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday in preparation for a first round game Thursday vs. Indiana. The Lions earned the No. 6 seed due to tiebreakers and will take on No. 11 seed Indiana in 7:30 p.m. (ET) tip on the Big Ten Network. Penn State is 6-13 all-time at the Big Ten Tournament and has twice advanced to the semifinals (2000 & 2001). Penn State lost its first round game last year to Minnesota, 76-55. The Lions defeated Indiana in the 2009 first round, 66-51.
All-session and single-session tickets for the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000, and through the Conseco Fieldhouse box office and www.consecofieldhouse.com.
For the men's tournament, single-session tickets range from $30 to $80 depending on session and seat location. All-session tickets are available for $220 or $165 depending on seat location, which represents a savings over purchasing single-session tickets for all five sessions. Orders will be limited to 12 all-session or single-session tickets.
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