Penn State Posts Win At UVa
Nov 30, 2009
Sammy Zeglinski's late shooting barrage wasn't enough to rally the Hoos.
Virginia fans watched the fast and the furious on Monday night at the John Paul Jones Arena.
The latter belonged to the Hoos, who made a furious rally in the final three minutes before falling short of a comeback win. The fast part belonged to Talor Battle, who jetted his way around the court for 32 points as Penn State claimed a 69-66 victory in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. PSU has posted three straight wins in the conference clash.
"We won Virginia Tech at home, then at Georgia Tech and now at Virginia and we'll talk about for a couple minutes but that's about it. We have another game on Saturday," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "I think that coming into this environment and winning a nice game on the road is good. We're just happy to have the win but we'll move on."
After UVa's late surge, DeChellis probably is thrilled to have escaped a miracle comeback. The Hoos trailed by 12 points entering the final three minutes before mounting a final charge behind fullcourt pressure and fouling to extend the game. Over those three minutes, Penn State made 14 of 20 free throws while Virginia hit five 3-pointers, one from Sylven Landesberg that unintentionally banked in and four from Sammy Zeglinski, who had a similar shooting barrage late against Liberty last season.
Still, the Nittany Lions made just enough freebies while UVa came up empty on just enough possessions to provide the final margin. Zeglinski did have one final look to tie the game at the buzzer, but after crossing halfcourt and avoiding a PSU foul attempt, the shot missed the target.
"It was probably one of the better looks I had out of all the 3's," Zeglinski said. "I probably should have went straight up with it. I tried to lean forward because I thought I felt him on my back a little bit. ... I just tried to avoid the contact and make the shot, but I wish I could have it back because I had a pretty good look at the rim."
While the furious rally certainly drew plenty of attention, it's not what the Cavaliers were focused on after the game. UVa coach Tony Bennett and his players were much more interested in the first few minutes of the second half than the final three. For good reason. That's when the Hoos let a 27-21 halftime advantage evaporate and then morph into a Lion lead.
Before the second media timeout even hit the board, Penn State had put together a 23-7 burst to open the second half en route to a 44-34 lead with 12:18 to play. The first four minutes erased the halftime deficit with an 11-2 spurt while the next four minutes quickly ballooned the margin with a 12-5 edge.
"I felt like the first half defensively we played the way we needed to and got good looks, but that four-minute stretch in the second half, it was [something like] 14 or 15 points that they scored - that's where we really hurt ourselves and I thought we were such a good team defensive unit in the first half and then that stretch to start the second half, they got to the rim, they got transition baskets, they did the things that we worked on every day in practice that are going to get you and make you lose," Bennett said. "I think we got a little more individual oriented defensively to start the second half and that hurt us. Our strength has to be it's us against the ball. That kid is very good; there is no question with Battle and you can see why he is one of the better guards in the country."
Indeed, Battle played a key role in the visitors' second-half surge. After posting just 4 points and 1 assist in the first half, he poured in 28 points and 3 assists afterward. During the critical run that stuck in the Cavaliers' craw, Battle had 10 points and all 3 of his second-half assists, a trio of drop-off passes for two dunks and a lay-up.
"He's a really good player. He has not been shooting the ball well from three but he has been working on it extremely hard and I knew he would have a breakout game for us. We needed our best player to step up in a game on the road against a good team like Virginia and Talor accepted the challenge," DeChellis said. "He was just amazing. In the second half he wanted the ball so we tried to run some plays to get him the ball so he could catch and shoot. That opened up some plays offensively. We got some easy baskets and lay ups because of his penetration."
"That's the best feeling I've had in a long, long time," Battle said. "This whole week, I've sat and talked to coach. That's what I've said. I wasn't really having fun. Tonight I really had fun. I get to see how much things are different. The team, they feed off me I'm just happy to have a smile on my face."
Virginia appeared to have trouble keeping Battle out of the lane for long stretches and when he got going from beyond the arch as well, the Cav defense didn't seem to have an answer.
"We have to tip our hats to him today. He made some really tough shots and had 28 points in the second half alone. He did a great job for them," Zeglinski said. "He is very quick off of the dribble and has a great stroke too. He can beat you many ways, and he gets to the foul line. He is tough for anyone to guard."
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