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March 10, 2013

Lions fall at the buzzer, 63-60

In its regular-season finale, Penn State arguably outplayed No. 21 Wisconsin for all but the first five minutes of the game. It was what the Badgers did in the final five seconds on Sunday that ultimately decided it.

Traevon Jackson ended a back-and-forth second half with a long, contested, buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave the visiting Badgers a 63-60 victory at the Bryce Jordan Center. Jermaine Marshall scored 23 points and DJ Newbill added 22 for the Nittany Lions, who ended the regular season at 10-20, 2-16 in the Big Ten. Not for the first time this season, Penn State was nearly but not quite good enough to beat one of the better teams in the best conference in the country.

"Everybody gets excited here when we just get close. I'm tried of getting close. I want to win," a hoarse and frustrated Patrick Chambers said afterwards. "We felt we earned the right to win this one. That's why it hurts. But we're getting better. We need to continue to go on that path."

It didn't look like it would be close early, as the Badgers (21-10, 12-6) opened a 14-5 lead with their typical brand of patient, well-executed offense. But the Lions tied it at 18 midway through the first half on a dunk and free throw from Marshall, and neither team let the other out of its sight the rest of the way. Chambers said foul trouble ultimately proved the difference in his eyes, as Sasa Borovnjak played just six first-half minutes after picking up two quick personals, and Marshall missed three minutes down the stretch after picking up his fourth.

For all that, the Lions managed to tie it at 60 on an elbow jumper from Newbill with :05.6 left. But the Badgers got the final chance and took it, with Jackson driving three quarters of the court and hitting a 24-footer just before the buzzer sounded.

"We got down early, we fought back, we stuck together," said Newbill. "But we're not going for moral victories. We want to win."

The Lions will open Big Ten tournament play Thursday in Chicago.

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