Penn St. 83, Rhode Island 72

BY foxsports • March 20, 2009

Stanley Pringle scored 19 points, Andrew Jones had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Penn State withstood Rhode Island's backcourt pressure in an 83-72 victory Thursday night to advance to the NIT quarterfinals. The Nittany Lions (24-11) didn't hit a field goal the last 8:53 of the game, and the Rams (23-11) closed a 16-point deficit to 72-66 with about 2 minutes left. But Penn State sealed the win at the foul line, making 14 of 17 chances down the stretch. Jimmy Baron had 24 points to lead Rhode Island, including several from well behind the 3-point arc, while Kaheim Seawright added 17. Rhode Island never led, but got to within single digits several times late in part because of withering defensive pressure. Pringle's jumper with 8:53 left was Penn State's last field goal of the night, but the team came through at the line. Minus starting forward Jamelle Cornley because of a left shoulder injury, the Nittany Lions also had to play without leading scorer Talor Battle for the last three-plus minutes. Battle hobbled back to the bench after being treated for an apparent ankle injury but didn't return. The lightning-quick point guard is Penn State's best clutch shooter, as evidenced by his buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Tuesday night at the end of regulation against George Mason in the first round of the NIT. They didn't need Battle down the stretch on Thursday. Comfortably ahead much of the night, Penn State overcame the Rams' chippy defense with free-throw shooting. The Nittany Lions, who shot 64 percent on the season from the line, went 27-of-31 (87 percent) to help them win consecutive postseason games for the first time since advancing to the NCAA regional semifinals in 2001. Rhode Island trailed by 15 early before a 12-0 run midway through the first half fueled by defensive pressure. The Rams forced four turnovers off inbound plays during a three-plus minute stretch to close to 20-17. But Rhode Island never got closer as Penn State avenged a 77-72 loss to the Rams in during a tournament in November.

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