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Penn State Basketball: Nittany Lions Hold Off Nebraska For 56-55 Victory

by on February 25, 2016 10:30 PM

With 6:55 left to go in regulation Penn State made its final basket of the game. A three from Shep Garner, one of the 11 from deep that the Nittany Lions made on Thursday evening en route to a 56-55 victory over Nebraska.

So it was fitting when Garner, who scored 22 of Penn State's 56 points finished what he started, driving to the hoop and getting fouled with just 7.2 to play. Garner made the first free throw but the second bounced off the rim and into play. Shavon Shields raced down the court with the game in his hand, but the recently returned forward missed the winning shot badly and Penn State escaped with a fourth victory in five Big Ten games.

On a night where Penn State was looking to prove that its 20 minutes of stagnate basketball on the road against the Cornhuskers were a hiccup in a season suddenly full of promise, the Nittany Lions did just that for 33 minutes.

Penn State controlled much of the run of play for the opening 20 minutes, making 6-of-15 from deep and holding Nebraska to just seven made baskets in the half while forcing six turnovers and registering six assists. The stout defensive effort gave Penn State a 28-20 lead at the break as Brandon Taylor picked up 11 points and Shep Garner led the way with 12 of his own and three assists.

Perhaps predictably, Nebraska found its stroke cutting the gap to just 7 points after a Taylor three pushed Penn State out to an 11-point margin. But much like against Rutgers, the Nittany Lions threw a second punch, going on an 11-0 run that opened the game wide open to the tune of a 42-24 lead with 14:16 to play in regulation.

Even so, the Cornhuskers found a way to scrape and claw back into the game cutting Penn State's lead to just six with 7:54 to go. From there it was back-to-back threes by Taylor and Garner that pushed Penn State ahead by 12 once again and once again Nebraska fought back to cut the margin to just six points with 3:55 to go.

From there it was simply a waiting game. Both teams missing shots, the Cornhuskers tying the game with 50 seconds to go as Penn State's scoring drought continued.

And so as Garner scored his 22nd point of the night with 7.2 to go in regulation it was just enough. A 56-55 lead that would hold for the final seven seconds.

As Taylor would say after the game, a grin on his face; "You only need to win by one."

And the Nittany Lions managed to do that on Thursday night.

  • Taylor finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds while Garner added 22 points and five boards Payton Banks, Donovon Jack, and Isaiah Washington each added five points respectively. Penn State if now 6-9 on the year in conference play and 15-13 on the year.


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