Sports

Record-setting Shep Garner leads Penn State to NIT final

Record-setting Shep Garner leads Penn State to NIT final

WKU Hilltopper Basketball's remarkable season came to an end Tuesday night with a 69-64 loss to Utah in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The victor will play for the NIT title Thursday night against the winner of the other semifinal between Penn State and Mississippi State. Stevens would add 17 points and eight rebounds. It's typically easier to slow a team down than to speed one up and Utah plays at a much slower pace than Western Kentucky. Sedrick Barefield added 14 points for the Utes, who advanced to the NIT championship game for the third time.

Turning point: Tyler Rawson hit a 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining to put Utah up two.

"Late in the game, I was just trying to make a play", Bibbins said.

Penn State's victory was carried on the back of a dominant first-half effort, which at one point saw the Lions go on a 24-point run to lead 37-11.

Utah made 18 of 23 free throws, including a 12-for-12 performance by Bibbins. "We stick by our word this time". Lamonte Bearden added 12 and Dwight Coleby scored 10.

The Bulldogs were absolutely decimated by Penn State as they only led the game for a grand total of 30 seconds.

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On the ensuing possession, Bibbins drew a charge against Bearden and knocked down two free throws. The Nittany Lions' biggest weakness is allowing teams open looks from 3-point range, which will be aided by the Bulldogs being 327th nationally in 3-point shooting percentage. Penn State had three of their starters combine to score 56 points, grab 16 rebounds, and make 12 assists.

"It was easy for me because I understood the value of it and how special it can be, winning here and getting to NY", he said. As long at Utah hits its 3s, the Utes should advance to the NIT Finals.

"We're awfully excited to be part of this tournament", Krystkowiak said.

Mississippi State (25-11) beat Nebraska, Baylor and Louisville in its NIT run and appears to be on the rise in the Southeastern Conference under coach Ben Howland, who reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament three times when he coached UCLA. "I got an e-mail last night from Arnie Ferrin, who my office is named after, 1947 Champs, and there are three guys that are still alive from 70 years ago that have that banner and that's back when the NIT was the banner".

"You're exhausted and you just want to go back in the locker room and change and leave", Reaves said. "Not that it's diminished anyway but things have changed".


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