Men’s Basketball Falls to Penn State in Overtime

Posted: March 17, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The Mason men’s basketball fell to the Penn State Nittany Lions, 77-73, in an exciting overtime game in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) on Tuesday.

A Penn State three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end regulation forced overtime, and the Nittany Lions outscored the Mason men’s basketball team 12-8 in the extra period.

Penn State’s Talor Battle went coast-to-coast after a pair of Dre Smith free throws had given Mason a 65-62 lead with 4.8 seconds to play, and his points, the only ones he scored in the second half after putting 13 on the board in the first, propelled PSU to the win.

The seventh-seeded Patriots had rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit to take several second-half leads.

Darryl Monroe’s basket with 1:01 to play looked like it might hold up. Mason had the ball with 20 seconds to go but an inbounds violation gave the ball back to second-seeded PSU.

Mason was able to force a turnover, and Smith made the free throws that looked to put the Patriots into the second round.

Instead Battle stayed hot, making a pair of three-pointers to start overtime and put PSU ahead by six. Mason was able to get as close as two in the closing seconds but Stanley Pringle iced the game with a pair of free throws with seven seconds to play.

Cam Long had 16 points, Andre Cornelius had 12, Mike Morrison had 11 points and eight rebounds and Dre Smith had 12 for the Patriots, who finished the season 22-11.

Battle finished with 24 for Penn State (23-11) while Jeff Brooks had 13 and Chris Babb and Andrew Jones each had 11.

Mason had a couple of four-point leads early in the game, going ahead 8-4 and later 16-12. But Penn State used a 17-4 run to take a comfortable lead as first Battle and then Chris Babb hit back-to-back three-pointers to put the Nittany Lions ahead 29-20.

The Patriots pulled to within four at 33-29, but Penn State closed the half with a 5-2 run to go ahead 38-31 at the break.

Battle had 13 points at the break to lead Penn State, which was six of 12 from three-point range. Five offensive rebounds helped the Nittany Lions as well.

A 7-0 Mason run to open the half made it a brand-new game with 17:47 to play but Penn State responded with back-to-back baskets inside from Andrew Jones.

But Cornelius, having his best game since late November, answered with a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup to give Mason a 43-42 lead.

From there the teams battled back-and-forth until the final moments.

This was the sixth meeting all-time between Mason and Penn State. The Nittany Lions had won all of the previous five meetings. This is the fourth time the Patriots and Penn State have played since Jim Larranaga took over as Mason head coach in 1997. Penn State won all three of the previous meetings by double figures.

This is Mason’s fourth trip to the NIT in school history. The first was in 1986, Mason’s first-ever postseason appearance. The Patriots won at Lamar that year before losing at Providence.

In 2002, Mason hosted St. Joe’s but lost in the first round.

In 2004, the Patriots beat Tennessee on St. Patrick’s Day at Patriot Center, and beat Austin Peay, also at Patriot Center, before losing at Oregon.

Mason entered this year 3-3 all-time in the NIT. Mason, which went to the NCAA Tournament last year, was making back-to-back postseason appearances for just the second time in school history.

The Patriots’ 90 wins the past four seasons are the most successful four-year run in school history. The 45 wins the past two years are tied for the most productive two-year span in school history with the 2005-06 and 2006-07 teams.

This was the final game for four seniors. Chris Fleming leaves after the most successful four-year stretch in school history. Darryl Monroe finishes with one of the top 10 field-goal percentages in school history. Dre Smith finishes as one of the top 10 three-point shooters in school history, and John Vaughan departs after putting himself among the top 25 all-time at Mason in scoring, rebounding, assists and three-pointers. He is third all-time in games played.

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