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February 27, 2013Head coach Patrick Chambers and the Penn State men's basketball team simply needed something to go their way.
Stuck in a 14-game losing streak, dating back to a 60-51 loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 3, the Nittany Lions weren't paralyzed by an early-season injury to star senior point guard Tim Frazier, but it very much hampered their ability to compete with Big Ten competition.
They kept working though and, Wednesday night, earned their first win of the Big Ten season against No. 4-ranked Michigan, 84-78.
"Just get better, stay the course, create the best habits we can," Chambers told his team throughout the streak. "I hate to say it, keeping a great attitude, coming in every day with great energy. I kept yelling, 'Hey, today is October 17th in my book. Let's just keep getting better and let's develop these guys.'
On senior night, the Nittany Lions were led by Jermaine Marshall's 25 points and a tremendous 15 point, 12 rebound effort from Ross Travis.
Trailing 66-51 with 10 minutes, 39 seconds left in the game, the Nittany Lions slowly chipped away at the Wolverines' lead until a Marshall 3-pointer at the 7:02 mark cut it to six.
Like a mantra Chambers had quoted to his team throughout the course of a losing streak that could have been demoralizing to some groups, the Nittany Lions persisted, though.
"Never, ever, ever, ever give up. And those guys have been sticking to it and that's the way they've been playing," Chambers said, quoting Winston Churchill. "There's so many people that have touched this program, that really care about this program, and they want to see this program do well and be successful.
After a Tim Hardaway Jr. jumper on the other end, D.J. Newbill knocked down a 3-pointer, followed by a Travis Layup and finally, at the 4:53 mark, a Marshall 3-pointer at the top of the key tied it at 74-74.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines went completely cold, scoring just four points in the final 6:30 of the game, each from the free throw line.
According to Michigan head coach John Beilein, the recipe amounted to a sure loss for the Wolverines.
"They made their foul shots, we did not," he said. "You just don't win, I don't care what the team's record is, when you play like we did in the last ten minutes."
After a Marshall bucket in the lane gave the Nittany Lions a key three point cushion with 1 minute, 6 seconds left to play, seniors Nick Colella and Sasa Borovnjak iced the game on consecutive possessions.
Ahead by six points, a missed Trey Burke 3-pointer with 11 seconds left rattled off the rim and into the hands of Marshall, who dribbled to half court and eventually tossed the ball into the rafters as time expired, leaving Penn State's student section to swarm the hardwood.
"It's just a great feeling to see how happy the fans were," Newbill said. "It's a memory I'm going to have for the rest my life."
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