Penn St. 77, George Mason 73

BY foxsports • March 18, 2009

Talor Battle scored eight of his game-high 24 points in overtime and tied the game with a 3-pointer at the end of regulation as Penn State defeated George Mason, 77-73 on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT. Dre Smith hit two foul shots with 5 seconds left in regulation to give George Mason a 65-62 lead before Battle hurried down the court for his buzzer-beating 3 for Penn State (23-11). It was Battle's first bucket of the second half after missing his first seven shots. Battle hit two more 3s in overtime, scoring all but four of Penn State's 12 points in the extra frame. John Vaughn's deep 3 with 7.7 seconds in OT drew Mason (22-11) within 75-73, but Stanley Pringle hit two foul shots with 7.0 seconds left to finally seal the win. Penn State moves on to face Rhode Island at the Jordan Center on Thursday night. The Rams defeated Niagara, 68-62 earlier Tuesday. Spurned by the NCAA tournament, the Nittany Lions were able to smile again after getting their first postseason victory since upsetting North Carolina to advance to the NCAA regional semifinals in 2001. Penn State needed more late-game dramatics Tuesday night after George Mason erased a nine-point deficit in the first half and traded leads with the Nittany Lions down the stretch. Darryl Monroe scored two key buckets in the final three minutes of regulation, including a layup with 1:01 left that gave Mason a 63-62 lead. Battle couldn't convert on two chances to take the lead in the final minute of regulation, missing a runner in the lane as the shot clock expired and slipping on another drive to turn the ball over with 6 seconds left. Pringle then fouled Smith, who hit his two late foul shots before Battle's buzzer-beater. Cameron Long had 16 points to lead the Patriots, and Smith and Andre Cornelius both had 12. Jeff Brooks scored 13 for Penn State, and freshman Chris Babb had 11, including two NBA-range 3s that highlighted a 9-0 run to give Penn State a 29-20 lead in the first half. Up 38-31 at halftime, the Nittany Lions appeared to be sapped of momentum in the opening minute of the second half after senior forward Jamelle Cornley, the team's emotional leader, reinjured a left shoulder that had been bothering him the past six weeks. Cornley spent much of the rest of the game on the bench with the left arm in a sling.

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