Battle’s last-second shot upsets No. 23 Illinois
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)—The most meaningful basketball game in years in Happy Valley ended with a dramatic last-second shot by the shortest guy on the court.
Talor Battle’s off-balance basket in the lane in front of a wall of Illinois defenders with 0.3 seconds left gave Penn State a 64-63 win over the 23rd-ranked Illini on Thursday night.
They may not be a lock yet for the NCAA tournament, but this win should look good on Penn State’s postseason resume. The Nittany Lions (21-9, 10-7 Big Ten) reached 21 wins for the first time since the 2000-01 season, the last time they were in the NCAA field.
The 5-foot-11 Battle atoned for a turnover with 10 seconds left and a bad shooting night—he was 5-of-17 from the field, including 1-of-8 from 3-point range.
“Right after I turned the ball over, I went to my teammates and said ‘I’m gonna make it up to you, I promise,”’ Battle said. “I just made the play at the end that won us the basketball game. Thank God for that.”
Illinois flubbed a desperation heave, and while a lot of fans stormed the court, others stayed in the stands and roared their approval after the Nittany Lions closed the game on an 11-3 run.
Demetri McCamey scored 16 points and Mike Tisdale added 12 for Illinois (23-8 11-7), which missed a chance to clinch no lower than the third seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament.
“We had the lead, we had our chances and they made this spectacular comeback,” Illini coach Bruce Weber said.
Still, Illinois seems assured of an NCAA berth. Their regular season over, the Illini will enter next week’s Big Ten tournament on their first two-game losing streak of the season.
Calvin Brock added nine points for the Illini, part of a bevy of guards who frustrated Penn State much of the game.
The Illini’s Mike Davis, a 70 percent free-throw shooter, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 8 seconds left.
Jamelle Cornley corralled the rebound and handed off to Battle, who streaked furiously up court and threw up the shot that bounced tantalizingly off the rim before dropping in.
“It would have been better if he just swished it, and we would have had a little more time,” Weber said.
Stanley Pringle had 20 points on his 22nd birthday to lead Penn State, which finishes the regular season Saturday at Iowa. The Nittany Lions notched their record 15th home victory.
No. 11 Villanova 97, Providence 80
At Villanova, Pa., Scottie Reynolds scored 23 points and Villanova finished a perfect season at the Pavilion and earned a double-bye in the Big East tournament.
Reynolds hit three 3s for the Wildcats (25-6, 13-5) in the second half that stretched the lead into double digits and pushed back a Providence team that badly needed this win to strengthen its NCAA tournament chances.
Weyinmi Efejuku had 29 points on 9-for-16 shooting for the Friars (18-12, 10-8).
The Wildcats won their 28th straight game at their on-campus home and as the No. 4 seed, will get two extra days’ rest, not opening play in the conference tournament at Madison Square Garden until Thursday.
No. 17 Xavier 76, Dayton 59
At Cincinnati, Dante Jackson scored Xavier’s first 11 points for a lead that held, and the Musketeers won their third straight Atlantic 10 regular-season championship.
Xavier (24-5, 12-3) joined a short list of A10 heavyweights—no one has dominated like this since UMass and Temple in the 1990s.
Marcus Johnson had 19 points for the Flyers (24-6, 10-5), who haven’t beaten Xavier in Cincinnati since 1981, losing their last 24 games on whatever court happens to be Xavier’s home.
The Musketeers put it away with a late surge by B.J. Raymond, who made 3s on consecutive possessions to push the lead to 65-52 with 4:23 left. He finished with 14 points.
No. 20 UCLA 79, Oregon St. 54
At Los Angeles, Josh Shipp scored 22 of his career-high 27 points in the first half, when UCLA built a 24-point lead.
The second-place Bruins (23-7, 12-5) need to beat Oregon on Saturday and then wait to see if Washington State can upset No. 16 Washington for them to gain a share of their fourth consecutive Pac-10 regular season championship.
Nikola Dragovic added 13 points and Darren Collison had six points, eight assists and a career-best 11 rebounds for the Bruins, who have won four of five since getting swept in the Arizona desert.
Lathen Wallace scored 15 points for the Beavers (13-15, 7-10), who have lost nine straight to UCLA.
Stanford 74, No. 21 Arizona St. 64
At Tempe, Ariz., Landry Fields scored 20 points and Stanford handed Arizona State its third straight loss.
Anthony Goods scored 15 points, Lawrence Hill added 13 and Kenny Brown had 12 for the Cardinal (17-11, 6-11 Pac-10), who avenged a 30-point loss to Arizona State in January. Stanford won for the first time in eight conference road games.
James Harden scored 22 points and Jeff Pendergraph had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Sun Devils (21-8, 10-7), who shot 36 percent from the field.
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