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March 24, 2014

Lions' season ends in familiar fashion

The Penn State men's basketball team's season ended Monday night in familiar fashion.

Walking off the court surrounded by jubilant fans at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., the Nittany Lions fell for eighth time this season by five-or-less points, this time a 54-52 second-round College Basketball Invitational loss to Siena.

Though junior guard D.J. Newbill again led the Lions with a 17 point effort, the same song of the season sealed the Nittany Lions' fate as the team failed to produce a second or third scorer in double digits.

Even then, Penn State had an opportunity to win the game.

Deadlocked in a back and forth with the Saints in the second half after trailing 25-21 at the break, the two teams were tied 46-46 at the 2:52 mark following a made Newbill free throw on a night when the Nittany Lions connected on just 12 of 22 from the charity stripe. A Rob Poole 3-pointer on the other end, however, gave the Saints a 49-46 lead that was build to 5 points heading into the game's final minute after an empty Penn State possession and Brett Bisping jumper for the home team.

Still, the Nittany Lions were climb back, hitting a Newbill layup and two free throws coming off an empty Saints' possession at the 29 second mark to cut the deficit to 51-50 with 20 seconds left to play. Fouled at the other end, Lavon Long hit one of two free throws with 18 seconds left, giving the Nittany Lions possession with a chance to tie and send the game into overtime with a made basket, or win with a 3-pointer.

Though Newbill hoisted and missed a shot with 12 seconds left to play, the ball squirted into Brandon Taylor's hands and was converted to tie the game at 52-52, but left 9 seconds on the clock. An Evan Hymes drive connected, and he was fouled with an opportunity to produce a 3-point lead with just 4 seconds left on the clock.

Again though, the Nittany Lions were given a final opportunity when Hymes missed the freebie, leading to a Penn State timeout. On the ensuing inbounds, though, with just 3 seconds left to play, Newbill stepped out of bounds trying to evade a midcourt trap before even getting a shot off, effectively sealing the game for the Saints.

Connecting on just 17 of 57 shots (29.8 percent) from the floor and only 6 of 17 from 3-point land (35.3 percent) for the game, the Nittany Lions were unable to take advantage of a lead that build to as many as 8 points midway through the first half.

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