For the second consecutive season, a Big Ten team took home the NIT trophy. Penn State dominated Baylor in the second half to pull out the 69-63 victory in the 63 possession game. Statistically, there were two areas of dominance for the Nittany Lions. The first was on the offensive glass, where Ed DeChellis' team hauled down 36% of their misses. The second was at the free throw line - Penn State had 28 attempts compared to Baylor's 6. Tournament MVP Jamelle Cornley (an especially impressive honor, considering the senior missed Penn State's second round game, and was very limited in the opener) led the Lions with 18 points on 15 shots to go along with 7 rebounds. Box score.
A few weeks ago there was heartbreak in Happy Valley, but at least there is a happy ending to all of this. That's the silver lining on Penn State's snub - as a result, the Lions ended up as one of the very few teams that gets to end its season with a win. That's especially satisfying given it was Jamelle Cornley's last game in a Penn State uniform. The undersized power forward's personal mission ever since he was a freshman was to bring some enthusiasm to the football school's basketball team. Well, yesterday 30 buses left State College for Madison Square Garden. And maybe the support from the fans, or the excitement from the win was the reason that Talor Battle's half-brother, the highly-touted guard Taran Buie, committed to the Nittany Lions last night. That's a big step for this program, which suddenly has a brighter future than a past. Jamelle Cornley definitely left the program in better condition than he found it in, and I'm happy for him.