TUCSON, AZ - MARCH 17: Khalif Wyatt #1 of the Temple Owls shoots past Andrew Jones #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at McKale Center on March 17, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Like every kid growing up in the '80s, I loved going to the mall arcade. My mom would give me a couple of bucks while she went shopping, and my brother and I would race off to play some Spy Hunter and Pac Man. I remember putting my dollars in the machine and getting a fist full of tokens thinking I was in for an afternoon of entertainment. I would pump a token into a machine, and thirty seconds later it was gone. So I'd play another machine. And then another machine. And before I knew it my tokens were gone, and by the estimation of my Casio watch I had burned a total of nine minutes.
That's kind of how I feel right about now. Is it really over? What happened?
Penn State just couldn't replicate their miracle run through the Big Ten Tournament. The fact that they were without Jeff Brooks for three quarters of the game was a killer. Brooks headed to the bench midway through the first half with two fouls. Then just seconds into the second half he dislocated the same shoulder he dislocated earlier in the year while trying to block a shot. It was a sad way to end his day, his tournament experience, and his Penn State career.
Talor Battle led the team with 23 points and played his heart out. Temple focused their entire defense on denying him the ball and forcing him to give it up when he got it. And yet he kept scoring. When PSU was down 64-61 in the final minute, Battle came up with a huge three pointer from deep range to tie the game with 14 seconds to go. How fitting that Talor Battle's last shot in a Penn State uniform was a huge one. How sad that it just wasn't enough.
Temple's focus on Battle created opportunities for Tim Frazier and David Jackson. Jackson finished with 14 points including two crucial three-pointers to keep the Lions in the game. Frazier was successful in getting to the basket and scoring. He finished the day with 15 points to go with 4 rebounds and 6 assists. I'm glad he's coming back next season to run the offense, because he has really blossomed into a good all-around player.
For Temple, Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore were amazing combining for 46 of Temple's 66 points. Fernandez hit the winning shot ducking under Tim Frazier and hitting a leaning jumper from just inside the arc.
It was a great season, and a great career for the four seniors. I wish they could have extended it another game or two, but it wasn't meant to be. They had their ups and downs, and we all shared in their misery and their success. Though Penn State's run through the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament was not a memorable one, their contributions that were essential in lifting the Penn State basketball program from the depths of dispare to what it is today will never be forgotten.
Thanks for the memories, guys. You are Penn State.