for this game

Penn State 'battles' past Illinois

Mar 6, 2009 - 6:19 AM STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Talor Battle had an off-night. However, he was on when Penn State needed it most, banking home the game-winning shot with less than a second left as the Nittany Lions downed No. 23 Illinois, 64-63, on Thursday.

With the Nittany Lions trailing by one, David Jackson fouled Mike Davis with eight seconds left. After a timeout by Penn State, Davis bricked the first half of a one-and-one.

Battle, who was 4-of-18 to that point, drove down the floor, went into the paint and threw up a shot that banked off the glass and into the hoop. The shot capped a 14-3 run to end the game by the Nittany Lions, who held Illinois scoreless over the final 3:52.

The victory went a long way toward locking up a NCAA Tournament berth for Penn State.

''It was important for all those people who are going to be sitting in a room and making a decision a week from Sunday to see us play,'' Penn State coach Ed DeChellis told the Chicago Sun-Times. ''And we gave them a good show.''

Stanley Pringle had chipped in with a 3-point shot to bring the Nittany Lions (21-9, 10-7 Big Ten) within 53-50 with 7:23 remaining.

Illinois (23-8, 11-7) then went on a 7-0 run to take a 60-50 lead with five minutes remaining. The surge didn't end until Demetri McCamey fouled Danny Morrisey on a shot from beyond the arc and the Nittany Lions' guard connected on all three foul shots.

Penn State kept scrambling and eventually had gone on a 12-3 run when Jackson hit a pair of free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound to make it 63-62 with 58 seconds left.

Trent Meacham missed a jumper and Penn State came down with a chance to take the lead. The Nittany Lions lost control of the ball and a jump-ball situation occurred with the possession arrow pointing toward Illinois, setting the stage for Davis' miss and Battle's heroics.

''We played our butts off. What can you say?'' coach Bruce Weber told the paper while recalling Illinois' win at Northwestern after trailing by 14 with five minutes to go. ''We won one we probably shouldn't have won at Northwestern. Now we've lost one that we probably should have won.''

It was the second brutal defeat for Illinois at the hands of Penn State.

In one of the ugliest games of the season, the Fighting Illini endured a 38-33 loss to the Nittany Lions on February 18. The teams' 71 total points was the lowest in Division I men's basketball since 2005, when Monmouth beat Princeton, 41-21.

Illinois also failed to attempt a free throw in that first meeting and didn't take a foul shot in this one until 5:33 had elapsed in the second half.