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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Finally Break Through With 59-52 Victory Over Northwestern

by on February 04, 2019 11:00 PM

There is a lot to remember about Penn State's stunning 2013 upset over No.4 ranked Michigan.

The double-digit comeback in the second half. Jermaine Marshall scoring 25 points. There was Trey Burke with a weird late turnover off his foot, and the scene as the crowd rushed the court.

What often is left by the wayside: the 14 games that came before it. Fourteen straight losses, some close and others not.

By that point in the year just five games remained and by any reasonable measure the season was over.  There was nothing left to play for, no reason to dive for a loose ball or give a little extra effort.

But they did, and result finally came.

For the Nittany Lions, a 59-52 win over Northwestern on Monday night doesn't bring with it nearly the same historic weight, but the lessons and the principles are largely the same. Heading to Chicago, Penn State has won three of its last 15 games, riding an eight-game losing streak that could have featured as many wins as it did late, more than a few turning on some of the cruelest bounces.

Of all the legitimate arguments to be made against Pat Chambers this far into his tenure, the idea he has lost the room certainly doesn't appear to be one of the them. The eight-game streak has not been a lack of effort or caring, a lack of trying or emotion. Whatever reasons might be the root cause, it certainly isn't that.

The game itself on Monday was everything you have seen before, simply played out on a different stage. This time, though, the Nittany Lions didn't fold in the second half, never giving up the lead. Penn State made free throws, Northwestern fouled, neither team played great, but the Nittany Lions played better.

At the end of the month it will have been six years since Penn State pulled off one of the more shocking upsets in the program's history. Marshall's 25-point night was a brilliant performance he would later replicated at Arizona State as the Sun Devils upset Arizona. He was a pivotal figure in both, a key playmaker in the biggest moments of each game.

But he too had experienced losing, and a lot of it. There are parallels to that night and Penn State's win on Monday. The games mean different things in the larger landscape, but as Josh Reaves and Lamar Stevens left the court and embraced their teammates, you could have been fooled into thinking they had pulled off the big upset again.

"It's a great win. We enjoyed today," Marshall, who died suddenly in January, said back in 2013. "But, tomorrow it is over. We got to move on and prepare for our game on Saturday. We are going to do what we do.

"I think we work so hard and we are never going to give up. We believe that we can win any game. We have to give credit to them. They have a lot of great players. We have confidence in ourselves, and confidence in coach. We believe we were close and it feels good to say that we earned that win. We are going to get back out there tomorrow."

And Penn State will be back out there on Thursday as they face Ohio State in Columbus.

But for one night, they'll once again enjoy the rewards that come with sticking together, and not giving up, even if there isn't anything left to play for but each other.

Then again, maybe that's the most important thing to play for.



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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