Battle’s clutch foul shots lift Penn St. over Illinois, 52-51
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)—Talor Battle hit two free throws with 7 seconds left and combined with David Jackson on a pivotal defensive play down the stretch as Penn State defeated Illinois 52-51 on Saturday night.
Demetri McCamey hit a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left and the shot clock winding down to give the Illini a 51-50 lead, briefly deflating the Jordan Center crowd.
Seconds later, they were rocking again after Battle was fouled by Trent Meacham on a drive. The freshman’s first foul shot bounced off the iron a couple of times before sailing through and the next one was perfect to put Penn State (12-12, 4-8 Big Ten) up for good.
Shaun Pruitt missed a desperate layup at the other end as Illinois (11-15, 3-10) couldn’t overcome a sluggish performance from the field (39 percent). Pruitt finished with 10 points and Meacham had 11.
Battle had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists and Stanley Pringle added 11 points for Penn State, which defeated the Illini at home for the first time since 2001.
The lightning-quick Battle has made a difference on both ends of the court in his first year in Happy Valley.
After he hit two foul shots to break a late second-half tie, McCamey lost the ball as he drove at midcourt on the ensuing possession. Jackson jumped high over McCamey to tip the ball to an open Battle, whose uncontested layup gave the Nittany Lions a 50-46 lead with 2:37 left.
They were the last points Penn State would score before Battle’s clutch free throws in the game’s waning seconds.