With just over 10 minutes to play, it seemed impossible. Penn State had played hard, but Michigan had opened up a 15-point lead, threatening to turn an entertaining game into a blowout.
When it was all said and done, the dream of an upset became a reality as the Nittany Lions (9-18, 1-14) shocked the fourth ranked Michigan Wolverines (23-5, 10-5) 84-78 in front of an electric Bryce Jordan Center Senior Night crowd that was on its feet for the final few minutes.
It started with a huge steal from Ross Travis to cut Michigan’s lead to 74-71 with 5:34 to go. 40 seconds later, Jermiane Marshall, who would finish with a game-high 25 points, hit a three pointer to tie the game. Penn State had come all the way back, and they were not done.
Marshall added two free throws a minute later to put Penn State in the lead, a lead it would not surrender the rest of the way as the Wolerines were held to 6 points in the final six and a half minutes.
“It’s a memory I will have for the rest of my life,” said D.J. Newbill who finished with 17 points of his own.
A relentless effort made it a happy Senior Night affair for Nick Colela and Sasa Borovnjak who were honored before the game.
“To get a win for these guys, I think it says a lot about our team,” Marshall said.
For Pat Chambers, it is no doubt the high point of what has been a frustrating season for the second year head coach. Despite the losses piling up, he kept believing in his players, and it paid off in a big way tonight.
Following the game, Chambers quoted Winston Churchill’s famous “never ever, ever, ever, give up” line and thanked Bill O’Brien for speaking to his team the other day for some inspiration.
“Words cannot express how I feel,” Chambers said. “It’s great to feel victory again. It’s been so long. It’s great for them. They just worked so hard,” he added.
Penn State ended up on the winning side for the first time in nearly two months, and while Chambers knows a lot still needs to be done to get the program rolling, this can certainly be described as a coming of age game for his relatively young squad.
“This is Penn State Basketball baby. Get a good picture of it, because that’s what it’s gonna be.”
(More coming in the morning)