Whew! Everyone, please take a moment to place your hearts back in their rightful positions. That one was too close for comfort! Little Brother from Philly came to play and play they did right up until the bitter end; for them thankfully. Penn State beat Temple last night in front of a half-packed home crowd 63-57 in a game that seemed all but lost for the Nittany Lions until they finally awoke with a few minutes to go. In the end, Penn State is still climbing but not without the help of The Great Escape of 2018!
With the exception of a highly motivated Josh Reaves (19 points, 11 rebounds) who kept us within reach all game and the valuable contribution off the bench from Nazeer Bostick (12 points), Penn State couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn for nearly 37 minutes of the 40-minute contest. Up to that point, All-Big Ten point guard, Tony Carr, was scoreless for the first time in his career and senior, Shep Garner was going out with a thud. With 3:50 to go, Carr collected his first and only bucket and the 3-point sharpshooter, in what was most likely his final home game, hit two crucial threes not long after to stick a dagger in the upstart Owls. It wasn’t pretty by any means but this late in the season, a win, is a win, is a win, great escape or not.
If you think things are about to get any easier, think again. The Nittany Lions are headed to South Bend, Indiana for a brouhaha with the top-seeded Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. On St. Patrick’s Day no less. The Irish eyes won’t likely be smiling on Pat Chambers and his basketball squad. The good news is, the starting five can’t possibly play any worse than they did for 36 minutes on Wednesday night.
It may not be the March Madness we all were craving, but at 22-13 overall., Nittany Lion basketball is still climbing and still alive in the dance with a trip to the NIT quarterfinals on the line at noon on Saturday. Not too shabby for a team left for dead back in mid-January and one that’s been missing their big man, Mike Watkins, for the past seven games. Speaking of which, he was seen without crutches and any noticeable limp on Wednesday night. If we can squeak past a team we all love to hate in Notre Dame, the possibility of him making a late-season return just might become more of a reality. It’s all just day-dreaming of course, but then again, isn’t that what college basketball’s all about this time of year?