Penn State upsets No. 4 Michigan, 84-78
Penn State's Brandon Taylor, left, looks for a shot past Michigan's Glenn Robinson III during the first half of the Nittany Lions' upset victory.
Share with others:
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The security guards didn't care, nor should they have. With the clock ticking down, the students were already inching toward the court well beyond the boundary that usually separates them, and far past the point where security could still interfere.
On the floor, guard Jermaine Marshall grabbed what would be the last rebound of the game. Then he dribbled and stared ahead and he could see the crowd converge, rushing toward him and his team. It was definitely the most beautiful sight the Penn State players have seen all season.
Penn State 84, No. 4 Michigan 78.
Coach Patrick Chambers embraced Michigan coach John Beilein after the buzzer and then he just watched his players get enveloped by the fans.
"I wanted them to be in that moment because those moments don't happen very often," he said.
By the last TV timeout, with 3:55 to go, Chambers pointed to the scoreboard. It was 74-74. He asked his players, "How fun is this?" Just minutes earlier, Penn State had trailed by 15.
No one besides him and the players who have experienced this season likely know the exact bliss. Since Tim Frazier tore his Achilles tendon in November, Penn State (9-18, 1-14 Big Ten) had pretty much lived the same nightmare over and over.
Pretty much every game unfolded the same way. Penn State played well enough to hang around for a half, maybe a little longer, and then nosedived at the end. The crash never felt good.
Never was that more obvious than after Penn State played Michigan (23-5, 10-5) the first time. The Nittany Lions lost by eight, and some fans reacted like they had won. Chambers was sick of hearing such things.
On Wednesday, it felt like he would have to hear the half-baked praises once again. Penn State led for a while in the first half before falling behind by 15 midway through the second.
The comeback then began. Michigan rushed shots, and Penn State started to make some, as well as grab its share of defensive rebounds. Penn State tied the score, 74-74, with less than 5 minutes to play.
Ahead by one with about a minute left, Chambers called a timeout and set up a play for Marshall. In traffic, he lay the ball up and it spun around the rim once before falling in. Shots like that had rarely fallen before, but they did Wednesday. Conversely, Michigan didn't make a field goal in the final 6:30.
"The little plays that we need to make," said Marshall, who scored 25. "Those plays, mainly stops and rebounds -- I think we did that."
To break up the monotony of this slump, Chambers had tried to mix up the routine in recent weeks. One day they worked out at Rec Hall, another day at the Lasch Building. Earlier this week, he had football coach Bill O'Brien speak to the team. At the team meal Wednesday night, Frazier led the team prayer, quoting from Abraham Lincoln.
Everything felt new in that sense, but no matter how much the attitude and hard work and the changes in routine can help freshen up the dreadful pall of a lost season, nothing does like a victory.
"Tonight, you know man, it was just a relief," said guard D.J. Newbill.
First Published February 28, 2013 12:00 am