Penn State came painfully close to pulling off its second upset of a Top-25 team in as many home games Sunday but fell 63-60 to No. 22 Wisconsin when the Badgers' Traevon Jackson hit the game-winning 3-pointer with less than a second remaining. The Nittany Lions (10-20, 2-16), playing a ranked opponent at home for the fifth time in nine conference games, erased a four-point deficit in the final minute and nearly came up with a steal in the final seconds but lost to the Badgers for the eighth time in the last nine meetings in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Marshall had his fifth 20-point game of the season and his third in five games.
Top performers: Guards Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill had 23 and 22 points, respectively, for the Nittany Lions, both hitting 9 of 20 from the field. Newbill added five assists and just one turnover in 40 minutes.
Jackson had 15 points for the Badgers (21-10, 12-6), who got 14 points from Sam Dekker, 13 from Ben Brust and 12 points and 10 boards from Jared Berggren.
What went right: The Nittany Lions regrouped defensively after a rough start and stayed right with the Badgers during a contested first half and, really, for most of the game. Marshall and Newbill did a nice job of not settling for threes and hitting mid-range jumpers and layups against a tricky Wisconsin defense. The Nittany Lions took excellent care of the basketball (just six turnovers), owned a 31-28 rebounding edge and hit 11 of 14 free throws. They battled to the end in front of a decent Sunday afternoon crowd and a big chunk of alumni and executed well down the stretch.
What went wrong: After avoiding foul trouble in the first half, the Nittany Lions couldn't stay out of it in the second, which threw off a team with an already short bench at both ends of the floor. No third scorer stepped up to help Newbill and Marshall (Sasa Borovnjak had only four points and five shots in 24 minutes, Ross Travis took only three shots and Brandon Taylor played only seven minutes[/b]). Jackson made a terrific individual play to win the game but the Nittany Lions let him go nearly the length of the court unimpeded.
Statworthy: The Badgers have beaten Penn State in 18 straight games when they score 60 points or more. … The game included six ties and 18 lead changes. … Travis grabbed 11 rebounds, the eighth time he has had at least 10 boards this season. … Penn State fell to 3-4 in games decided by five points or fewer this season.
Quotable: "We just did 25-30 of those same situations about a week ago. Now, the ball still has to go in. It's a tough shot, but they know the drill." -- Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, on the last-second shot
"You always get a great lesson from a loss. At the same time, we're not going with moral victories. We want to win." -- Penn State guard D.J. Newbill
"In horseshoes it's great when you get close, but in basketball it's a loss. And it happens too much around here -- when the basketball team gets close, people get excited. We need to change that." -- Penn State coach Patrick Chambers
Summary: Prior to Sunday, the loss at Wisconsin in early January might have been the toughest defeat for the Nittany Lions to swallow. This one easily replaces that. Penn State did not play great at either end but still had a terrific chance to beat a Top-25 team. Chambers said after the game that he doesn't want the season to end because his team is "starting to figure some things out." That's very true; a team that was having trouble even competing in January and February has become a tough out in March. That said, its various limitations are such that Penn State has to play nearly perfect to win. It didn't Sunday.
Up next: The 12th-seeded Nittany Lions will play a 5 seed to be announced at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
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