Six Wonderful Hours at the BJC

March 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

If you didn’t catch Penn State’s exhilarating, last-second, come-from-behind defeat of No. 23 Illinois on Thursday night, you missed what was probably the biggest game and best crowd in Bryce Jordan Center history. (For a recap with video highlights, click here.) If the win didn’t earn the Nittany Lions an NCAA Tournament bid, it got them awfully close. One more win — either in Saturday’s regular-season finale at Iowa, or at next week’s Big Ten tournament — should seal the deal. 

Battle celebrates his game-winner

Battle celebrates his game-winner

For me, the game was only the highlight of a great afternoon and evening at the Jordan Center. The 9 p.m., ESPN-mandated tip off was a drag, but it had a silver lining for those of us who cover the team. Brian Siegrist, the media relations liaison for the men’s basketball team, was able to secure an hour of court time for media members, and I joined the rag-tag crew — Siegrist, Blue White Illustrated writers Nate Bauer ’05 and Sean Fitz, Dave Jones of the Patriot-News, and the Daily Collegian trio of Matt Brown, Matt Fortuna, and Nate Mink — for a late-afternoon full-court run. I’m more sore today (and missed more easy shots) than I’d like to admit, but it was a lot of fun.

A couple of hours later, it was time for the real players to take their turn. The game and atmosphere were amazing — thanks in part to Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark, who took the mic before tipoff to hype up the whited-out crowd, which responded in kind. They, and the national TV audience, got quite a show: Penn State was down 10 with five minutes left, and senior leader Jamelle Cornley was out with what looked like a separated shoulder (though he somehow came back into the game a few minutes later, practically dragging his arm around the court). Fellow senior Stanley Pringle hit some huge shots to keep the game close, and then, predictably, it was uber-confident sophomore guard Talor Battle taking the ball the length of the court in the closing seconds and hitting a driving layup that almost seemed to stop on the rim before dropping in. Cue thousands of white-clad fans storming the court. It was quite a moment.

The students rush the court (Blurry photo courtesy of my cell phone)

Penn State students rush the court to celebrate the upset of Illinois (Blurry photo courtesy of my cell phone)

 There was another slightly less monumental (but no less cool) moment at halftime, when the entertainment featured a game between the Bellefonte fifth-and sixth-grade boys rec league teams. The highlight of that game was a surging layup by one Ian Marshall, son of Penn Stater editorial assistant Barb. I hope Ed DeChellis was paying attention — the kid can play.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

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