2011 NCAA Tournament: Penn State's Run Ends Against Temple With Late 66-64 Loss

2011 NCAA Tournament: Penn State Vs. Temple

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2011 NCAA Tournament: Temple Ends Penn State Season In Final Moments, 66-64

For Penn State fans, March 17, 2011 will forever be remembered as the definition bittersweet.

It began with the Nittany Lions realizing a dream 10 years in the making, appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001 after a truly remarkable run through the Big Ten Tournament to earn the berth led by one of the best senior classes in school history. It ended when a desperation heave by Temple's Juan Fernandez sank through the hoop in the final second, sending the Nittany Lions home 66-64 losers in their second round NCAA Tournament game in Tucson, Arizona.

Talor Battle ended his Penn State career with a 23-point performance, the final triple coming on a 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in the game that pulled the Lions even with the Owls before the devastating final act. His fellow seniors, David Jackson, Jeff Brooks and Andrew Jones added 14, six and four points respectively in their final games in blue and white. Jones also had a team high eight rebounds. Sophomore Tim Frazier added 15 points, six assist, and four rebounds.

After Penn State grabbed an early nine point lead, the Owls clawed back following Brooks' exit mid-way through the first half with two fouls and took at 35-33 lead into halftime. Moments into the second half, Brooks re-dislocated his shoulder, never to return, and Penn State was forced to finish the game without its second leading scorer and top rebounder.

The Lions clearly weren't the same without him, and his absence will likely go down in history as the difference between a Penn State upset and a devastating loss in the desert.

Fernandez and teammate Ramone Moore led the way for Temple with 23 points each. Lavoy Allen was held to three points, but grabbed 12 big rebounds for the Owls in the win. Temple will face the winner of San Diego State and Northern Colorado in the third round of the tournament on Saturday.

Penn State will return to Happy Valley, where the seniors will clean out their lockers at the Bryce Jordan Center for the final time and a new era of Nittany Lions basketball will begin.

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2011 NCAA Tournament: Temple Leads Penn State At Halftime

Penn State jumped out to a nine-point lead early in its NCAA Tournament second round game against Temple, but the Owls chipped away after the Nittany Lions' Jeff Brooks was forced to the bench with two fouls mid-way through the opening period and took a 35-33 lead into halftime in Tucson, Ariz.

Talor Battle led the scoring for Penn State in the first half with 13 points on 5-7 shooting including 3-5 from 3-point territory. His early contributions were important in allowing the Lions to take its early lead. Tim Frazier followed Battle in the scoring column with eight points and also grabbed three rebounds. The Lions' leading rebounder in the half was Andrew Jones, who grabbed five boards in the half and also had two points.

Juan Fernandez leads all scorers with 17 points for Temple. The guard was 6-7 shooting in the half including 2-3 from 3-point territory. Rahlir Jefferson had seven points in the half for the Owls, Ramon Moore had six and Khalif Wyatt had five off the bench to round out the scoring for Temple.

The game's pace has been a little quicker than expected so far. Many felt the two teams would slow the game down and lock up in a low scoring affair, but so far, the pace has been pretty loose and both teams have gone up and down so far. It'll be interesting to see if that keeps up after the half.

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2011 NCAA Tournament: Penn State Vs. Temple

Penn State makes its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 10 years today when it takes on Temple at 2:10 P.M on TNT.

The Nittany Lions are coming off an impressive charge at the Big Ten Tournament where they defeated Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State before falling by 11 to Ohio State in the tournament championship game. The improbable run took them from being unlikely NCAA Tournament appearances to a solid 10 seed in a matter of a couple of days.

Temple has played well all season long, finishing 14-2 in Atlantic 10 play, good for second place in the conference. The Owls fell against Dayton at the conference tournament in Atlantic City, but has reeled off enough wins to earn a pretty good seed heading into the Big Dance.

These two teams know each other well. In October, they scrimmaged at the Bryce Jordan Center (Temple reportedly got the better of play) and last season, they met in Philadelphia with the Owls winning 45-42 in a defensive battle at the Licouras Center.

Both of those events were a long time ago, though. The Owls have battled injuries all season and Penn State has seen guys like Jeff Brooks and Tim Frazier emerge to become consistent contributors on both ends of the floor. The contest should be a pretty even one. Don't be surprised if it goes right down to the wire.

For more on this game, check out Black Shoe Diaries.

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