Lions Win on Buzzer-Beater

Walker, Jackson team up on key play as Penn State beats Bucknell at the Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions improve to 3-1 on the season with the victory.

Mike Walker made the game-winning shot in Penn State's 63-60 overtime win over Bucknell at the Jordan Center Tuesday night, converting a 3-pointer from the deep right wing just before the buzzer sounded.

But senior David Jackson made the game-winning play.

“I was just praying that he'd find me,” Walker said. “And he did.”

“He got it to Mike and [Walker] got a pretty good shot at it,” added Lion coach Ed DeChellis, whose team improved to 3-1 with the win. “Sometimes it's about one basket. Sometimes it goes in. Sometimes it doesn't go in.”

But the deciding blow on this night was about more than just one basket. It was about an amazing pass, too, one of Jackson's game-high five assists.

First a little background on how we arrived at the play in question.

After blowing a 12-point lead (50-38) with 8:27 left in the game, the Nittany Lions found themselves staring blankly at Bison forward Andrew Morrison near the end of regulation. With the score tied 56-56, Morrison got the ball on the baseline on an inbound pass with a second to go and no one near him. He missed an uncontested jumper that would have given Bucknell (0-4) its first win of the season.

“We fought too hard to lose like that,” senior guard Ben Luber said. “We just got fortunate that he missed the shot.”

So the game headed to overtime and stayed tight. State was up 60-59 with fewer than 20 seconds to go when Bucknell guard Abe Badmus went high for an offensive rebound and was fouled by Lion center Milos Bogetic. It was the fifth personal for Bogetic, who became the fourth player to foul out of the game (two on each side).

With starting forward Geary Claxton still out with a broken hand, top rookie forward D.J. Jackson sidelined by a leg injury (more on that later) and starting center Brandon Hassell already having fouled out, DeChellis replaced the 6-foot-11 Bogetic with the 6-1 Mooch Jackson.

“We didn't have another big guy,” DeChellis said of his four-guard look, with 6-5 Jamelle Cornley the only post player on the floor.

Badmus made the first free throw to tie it 60-60 and DeChellis called timeout. Whether the second free throw was good or not, he wanted Luber to drive and get the ball to the post on PSU's ensuing possession.

“Usually everyone turns and watches the ball as it goes in,” DeChellis said. “Then you can kick it out. You can get the open shot.”

Badmus missed the second shot and Cornley snared the rebound. He passed to Walker who found Luber. Luber dribbled up the floor and looked to the post, not to the powerfully built Cornley but rather to Jackson on the left block.

Jackson was quickly triple teamed.

“When he first caught the ball, he was facing toward our bench and I was completely on the other side of [the floor],” Walker said. “For him to have the strength to hold on to the ball was crucial.”

Jackson did more than simply hold on to the ball. He stepped between two defenders and fired a perfect cross-court pass to Walker. Before anyone could get close to him, he lobbed up a 23-footer that swished.

The game was over, and Walker, who hopped on a courtside table, received a hero's welcome from the student section. Jackson and the rest of the Lions quickly joined in the celebration.

The win was important not just because of the dramatic way it unfolded, but also because State was coming off an embarrassing 59-51 loss to Stony Brook Friday.

“We needed something good to happen and the kids made something good happen, which was very positive for us,” DeChellis said. “… The important thing for us was to keep fighting and keep playing through and make some basketball plays.”


• D.J. Jackson missed the game with what DeChellis described as a stress fracture of the left femur. “We're gonna shut him down for several weeks.”

• The buzz around the program is that Claxton may return for Saturday's game with St. Joe's at the Jordan Center (4 p.m. tip).

• PSU's Danny Morrissey led all scorers in this one with 21 points, making 5 of 10 shots from the arc.

• The Lions were 24 of 28 from the foul line.


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