college basketball

For a 3rd time, Penn State stuns Ohio State

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For a 3rd time, Penn State stuns Ohio State

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NEW YORK -- With seventh-seeded Penn State trailing by a point and the clock ticking off the final 10 seconds, almost everyone in Madison Square Garden was waiting for Big Ten Conference leading scorer Tony Carr to launch a game-winning shot attempt against second-seeded Ohio State.

It was a no-brainer, until Carr decided otherwise.

Carr found Josh Reaves for a game-winning dunk with 3.1 seconds to play and Penn State may have punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a 69-68 victory over Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Friday night.

"It was `Fist Two', basically try to get the mismatch and I was just trying to make a play," Carr said. "And Josh basically made the play. He made a great cut. I was just out there dribbling around. Josh made a great play. And I thank God I found him."

It was a great ending in more ways than one. The Nittany Lions (22-12) scored the final five points in beating the 13th-ranked Buckeyes for the third time this season and advancing to Saturday's semifinal against the winner of the quarterfinal between third-seeded and No. 8 Purdue and 14th-seeded Rutgers.

The game-winning play was set up when Shep Garner made a crucial steal from conference player of the year Keita Bates-Diop with 21 seconds to play.

Penn State elected not to call a timeout and coach Patrick Chambers called out a play.

"I just noticed my man wasn't looking at me so I took advantage of that," Reaves said. "And Tony just shows how much of a great player he is to find an open man in a time like that. I was just fortunate enough to make the dunk."

Lamar Stevens added 15 points for Penn State and Garner had 13

Ohio State (24-8) had a chance to win after calling a timeout, but a last-second shot by C.J. Jackson was not close.

"Give Penn State credit, I thought they made the necessary plays down the stretch," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "Tough back and forth game. We'll learn from it and get ready for the tournament."

Bates-Diop carried the Buckeyes in the second half, scoring 17 of his 25 points. However, all he is probably going to remember is losing the ball with 21 seconds to go and his team ahead 68-67.

Kam Williams and Jae'Sean Tate each added 10 points for the Buckeyes, who will wait for their invitation to the NCAA Tournament in a little more than a week.

Ohio State, which was blown out by Penn State 79-56 on Feb. 15, rallied from deficits of eight points early in the second half and six with just under 8 minutes to go, riding Bates-Diop, who seemingly wanted the ball on every position.

A layup by Andre Wesson gave the Buckeyes a 64-62 lead with 3:59 to play and Bates-Diop hit a jumper with 2:37 left to expand the lead to four points.

A dunk by Julian Moore off a feed from Carr cut the margin to 66-64 with 2:09 to play but Bares-Diop hit a layup with 1:49 left to make it 68-64. It would be the last points for Ohio State.

Carr made one of two free throws with 1:33 to go and Reaves, who finished with nine points on 2-of-12 shooting, cut the lead to 68-67 with two free throws with 47 seconds to play after Bates-Diop missed a 3-pointer.

Ohio State called a timeout, but Garner's steal near the foul line set the stage for another Penn State win.

Big picture
Penn State: Has not been to the NCAAs since 2011, but with three wins over a ranked Ohio State it might be enough.

Ohio State: Better hope it doesn't play Penn State in the NCAA Tournament.

Up next
Penn State: Faces the winner of the quarterfinal between third-seeded and No. 8 Purdue and 14th-seeded Rutgers.

Ohio State: Waits for the NCAA to call a week from Sunday.

Penn has its title stolen away ... for now

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Penn has its title stolen away ... for now

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Azar Swain's steal set up an inbounds pass with three seconds left and Miye Oni fed Paul Atkinson for the game-winning basket with 0.3 seconds left to help Yale beat league-leading Pennsylvania 80-79 on Friday night.

The Quakers (21-8, 11-2 Ivy League) held the lead for the final 10-plus minutes except when the Bulldogs (15-14, 8-5) pulled in front in the final second. Penn, which could have clinched a share of the Ivy League title with a win, was unable to get a shot in the time remaining. Harvard beat Cornell on Friday night and pulled even with Penn in the standings with one game remaining.

The Quakers had a three-point lead twice in the final 11 seconds and fouled Oni each time to send him to foul line rather than allow a 3-point attempt. Oni made all four free throws, the second trip to the line making it 79-78 with 3.6 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds play, Swain caused a turnover by Max Rothschild, setting up Yale's side out and Oni and Atkinson's game-winning combo.

Oni had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Trey Phills led the Bulldogs with 24 points. Atkinson scored 17.

Darnell Foreman and Caleb Wood scored 21 each to lead the Quakers.

Amid Eagles frenzy, Villanova does what it does

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Amid Eagles frenzy, Villanova does what it does

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Jay Wright gave his NFC championship game tickets to his kids. They sent Wright and his wife photos from the Eagles' romp over the Vikings and texted updates on all the fun they had at the Linc.

Who wouldn't want to ditch the parents to root on the Birds?

Even Villanova's coach knows the top team in the nation is no match in Philly fandom compared to the team in green.

With Philadelphia swept up in a Super Bowl frenzy, No. 1 Villanova showed again why city sports fans can also brag about having the best team in college basketball. Just across the street from where the Eagles clinched a Super Bowl berth, the Wildcats used a 22-2 run in the first half to cruise to their sixth straight win, 89-69 over Providence on Tuesday night.

The Wildcats (19-1, 6-1 Big East) are the only program in the AP Top 25 that plays in the shadow of four major pro teams that share a sports complex.

Philly is an Eagles city. The Wildcats, even with the 2016 national championship, are just along for the ride.

Villanova was forced to play this season at the Wells Fargo Center, home of the NBA's 76ers, because of renovations at its on-campus arena. The Wildcats improved to 7-0 in their temporary digs, even though the 20,000-seat arena drew only an announced 8,595 fans.

"It's starting to feel like this is our home court," Wright said.

Interest in college hoops doesn't really pick up around town until the Eagles' season is over. The Wildcats might have three more wins by the time fans start paying attention on Feb 5 -- give or take a possible parade date.

Eric Paschall led six Wildcats in double figures with 17 points, Omari Spellman had 16 and Jalen Brunson scored 15.

What the fans might have missed is Brunson, a first-team preseason All-American, playing his way into national player-of-the-year contention. The recent funk from Oklahoma's Trae Young could open the door for the Nova guard to take home some postseason hardware. He entered the game tops on Villanova in scoring, third in the Big East in assists and third in the conference in 3-point accuracy.

The Wildcats had off on Sunday and a poor practice a day before the Big East matchup, and they started in a 24-15 hole.

"They try to use their speed and quickness and they definitely took advantage of that today," Paschall said.

The Wildcats rallied to lead 39-30 at halftime. Donte DiVincenzo and Mikal Bridges hit consecutive 3-pointers to spark the decisive run. Spellman, the preseason Big East freshman of the year, had a three-point play when he tossed the ball up in the lane and it rolled around the rim before falling through the net.

The Friars (14-7, 5-3) missed eight straight field goals midway through the second half, and Brunson and Paschal hit 3s that stretched the lead and sent the Wildcats on their way to their sixth straight win against Providence.

"I like the way we played for about 22 minutes," Providence coach Ed Cooley said. "Every mistake, they took advantage of. I was proud of our guys in some sequences, but the breakdowns really hurt us and they took total advantage of that."

Big picture
Providence: The Friars' career record vs. No. 1 teams fell to 2-15 and they dropped to 1-3 against Top 25 teams this season. Rodney Bullock was the top scorer with 16 points.

Villanova: Outside of their 22-2 run, the Wildcats didn't really shoot that well. But the Wildcats entered tops in the Big East in scoring defense (64.8 points), and they kept Providence to 37 percent shooting from the floor. ... Bridges had 11 points and nine rebounds. ... Paschall and Bridges each had four steals.

He said it
Asked about the 22-2 run, Wright asked, "late?"

No, it only seemed like the Wildcats went on that kind of spurt in the second half.

"Oh, after we were down. Yeah, I didn't know it was that much," Wright said.

Up next
Providence plays the middle of three straight road games Jan. 31 at Seton Hall.

Villanova plays Sunday against Marquette.