Only thing is, it came at the first-half buzzer.
Ohio State guard Jon Deibler nailed a contested 3-pointer at that point in the game, turning momentum in the favor of the top-ranked Buckeyes, who went on to a 71-60 victory.
The Nittany Lions (19-14), who got 24 points from Talor Battle, 19 from Jeff Brooks and precious little from anyone else, were nonetheless invited to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001 after winning three times in as many days to reach Sunday's final. They will be the West Regional's 10th seed, and face No. 7 Temple (25-7) Thursday in Tucson, Ariz.
Ohio State (32-2) is the tournament's top overall seed, and will face the winner of a play-in game between Texas-San Antonio (19-13) and Alabama State (17-17) Friday in Cleveland.
William Buford led the Buckeyes with 18 points Sunday. Jared Sullinger had 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Deibler also scored 15. His triple at the end of the first half came after the Lions, who trailed 18-10 early in the game, mounted a challenge.
They were within one, at 22-21, with 3:58 left in the half, when Jermaine Marshall made two free throws, and trailing just 26-23 when Battle did the same 8.9 seconds before the break.
But Deibler nailed his shot over Battle, pushing the lead to six. He made another 3-pointer a minute into the second half, triggering a 17-6 run that put the Buckeyes up 46-29 with 13:01 remaining. Buford and Aaron Craft also made 3s during that run.
PSU never mounted a serious challenge thereafter.
Battle told reporters following the game that Deibler's first-half shot was a huge momentum boost for Ohio State.
Especially, Battle added, because I thought we defended him pretty well. We were scrambling, I was right there in his face, and he just knocked it in.
And after the break, Battle said, We just ran out of gas.
It's not the first time Deibler has bedeviled the Lions this year. He shot 10-for-12 from the arc and scored 30 points in an 82-61 rout of PSU on March 1. But after Sunday's game, he talked about his team's inside-outside balance, with Sullinger in the post and a bevy of long-distance options.
I think we're very hard to match up with for other teams for their defense, Deibler told reporters. We've got a lot of guys who can make plays offensively and it's really hard to focus on one guy. I mean, Jared, what doesn't he do? Just how he affects the game without having the ball, and even when he does have the ball, he draws so much attention that he creates for all of us on the perimeter.
The Buckeyes outscored the Lions 39-12 on 3-pointers in the March 1 meeting. In a 69-66 Ohio State victory on Jan. 15, the difference was 30-12.
Both teams made seven 3-pointers Sunday -- Ohio State in 16 attempts, Penn State in 18 -- but the Buckeyes shot 51 percent from the field, the Lions 39.3 percent. Only four other PSU players scored besides Battle and Brooks, none finishing with more than David Jackson, who had six points.
Offensively we didn't make many shots tonight, coach Ed DeChellis said. I think Jeff and Bubby made some shots, but I've got to get the other guys offensively in some rhythm.
NOTES: Battle shot 9-for-20 from the field, including 4-for-11 on 3-pointers. Brooks was 7-for-14 from the field, 2-for-5 from the arc. The other six Penn State players to appear shot a combined 6-for-22. Temple eliminated the Lions from the NCAA Tournament in 2001, in the Round of 16.