D.J. Newbill’s Buzzer-Beater Lifts Penn State In Finale, 79-76
In a game that seemed like it would end in typical Penn State fashion — a first half lead, followed by a second half collapse, only to reel you in for a crushing final charge — the basketball gods had something else in store. In D.J. Newbill’s Big Ten regular season curtain call, he gave the loyal Nittany Lion faithful something to smile about, sinking a buzzer-beater in the game’s waning seconds to lift Penn State, 79-76. This game had it all: drama, emotion, three pointers, and more. Take a look at how this instant classic unfolded.
How It Happened
This one had the makings of a shootout early on, as a 10-4 Penn State lead was quickly erased by a 12-2 run by the Golden Gophers, led by the hot hand of Andre Hollins, who finished with 13 points. A big three, coupled by a Newbill jumper, helped Penn State knot things back up with Minnesota, tying the game at 17 with 9:50 to play.
With about five minutes to go in the first, the threes began to fall. Geno Thorpe, Shep Garner, and Brandon Taylor all drilled shots from downtown to help Penn State jump out to a 33-27 lead. Newbill fed Taylor for another, and shortly after got in on the fun himself, nailing a deep shot from the corner. The outburst of sharpshooting helped the Nittany Lions take a 43-34 lead on the Golden Gophers going into halftime.
A spinning layup kicked off the scoring for Penn State, coupled with some crafty scoring by Geno Thorpe to give Penn State a seemingly commanding lead in unfriendly confines. The lead held strong until a TV timeout at the 11-minute mark, which Minnesota came out of the gate strongly to get right back into the mix, cutting the deficit to four.
A vicious slam in the paint by senior Maurice Walker — who finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds — gave Minnesota a 66-65 lead with less than six minutes to go, but five points by Newbill in the span of 28 seconds got the Nittany Lions back on top. Later on, Walker tied it up after both teams traded shots from the free throw line, which was followed by a much needed timeout by Pat Chambers to settle his team down.
Newbill hit a jumper with 22 seconds on the clock to give Penn State a 76-75 lead, but a flailing Jordan Dickerson fouled Minnesota’s Joey King just in front of the three point line, sending him the line to attempt two crucial free throws. King’s first attempt rolled off the rim, but his second stayed true, tying the game up at 76-76.
Newbill got the inbounds pass, walking the ball up in a rather calm, relaxed manner. He looked his defender dead in the eye, started to drive, and pulled up from the top of the key with just a second to play. In storybook fashion, his shot fell, and the Nittany Lion bench jubilantly spilled onto the court. Penn State left Minneapolis victorious, sealing a tumultuous Big Ten regular season with a statement 79-76 victory.
Player Of The Game
This one is obvious. Your game MVP is the legend himself, D.J. Newbill, who finished with a game high 31 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a shot for the ages.
— SB Nation CBB (@SBNationCBB) March 8, 2015
Tweet Of The Game
NEWBILL DROPS A BOMB FROM THE TOP OF THE KEY TO WIN IT!
— Onward Sports (@OnwardStSports) March 8, 2015
Just as all you loyal fans did at home, we got a bit excited.
The Nittany Lions, despite a rocky conference record, finished the year above the .500 mark with a 16-15 record. The Golden Gophers, whose NCAA Tournament bubble popped weeks ago, finish with a 17-14 regular season record. Though the regular season took an emotional toll on the team and its fans, the season couldn’t have ended on a sweeter note for a team and coach that needed it most.
Next up for the Nittany Lions will be a trip to the United Center in Chicago for the Big Ten Tournament, where Penn State will enter as a 13-seed. The odds are stacked against Penn State, but after a win like that, the team enters riding a wave of momentum.