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Battle's great career ends as PSU loses to Temple, 66-64

March 18, 2011
By Cory Giger, cgiger@altoonamirror.com

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Talor Battle hit the big shot for Penn State, just like every Nittany Lion fan knew he would.

Only this time, it wasn't THE big shot of the game.

So after a career of being the hero for Penn State, Battle had to watch someone else steal the spotlight on college basketball's biggest stage.

"It just really stinks," Battle said after a crushing 66-64 loss to Temple on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Battle buried a 27-foot 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to pull PSU even at 64-64. It was the kind of long-range bomb Battle always seems to make in clutch situations.

"It was a dream scenario," Battle said of his big bucket. "When I hit it, I was thinking I'm ready for overtime because I'm feeling it now."

When the shot went down, TV analyst Reggie Miller, who made more than his share of similar shots during a stellar NBA career, went nuts cheering for the Nittany Lion standout.

"I just happened to look over, and no lie, he was going crazy," Battle said of Miller. "Him and the other guy were going crazy. Reggie was jumping on him, and I was like, 'This is what March is all about.'"

So is what happened next.

Temple's Juan Fernandez crushed the Nittany Nation with the kind of shot that makes March Madness so great.

For the winners, anyway.

For the losers, it's a devastating shot that kills dreams.

"My whole career just flashed by in the blink of an eye," Battle said after seeing Fernandez's shot fall.

Fernandez sank a tough 17-foot bucket from the right wing with 0.4 seconds left to give Temple the victory. That shot also ended the remarkable career of arguably the best player in Penn State history.

Battle, his hands on his head, walked off the court trying unsuccessfully to fight back tears.

"Just disappointed," he said a few minutes later at his locker. "That's basically it. A loss for words.

"It's March. Those shots go in in March. Only in March."

Battle spent his entire career trying to lead Penn State into the NCAA Tournament. He finally made it his senior season, but the stay lasted just one game.

The 6-foot-guard, who goes by "Bubby," did everything he could to make it last longer. He jammed a finger on his left hand in the opening minutes but played through the pain and finished with 23 points, hitting 9-of-21 shots and 5-of-11 3-pointers.

None was bigger than his deep trey with 14 seconds left.

"Bubby's shot was tremendous," PSU coach Ed DeChellis said. "That's what he's done his whole career. He is just a great kid, very competitive person."

Battle will leave Penn State with a school-record 2,213 points, almost all of them coming despite having a target on his back as the Lions' only standout player.

He also finished as just the third player in Division I history with at least 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 500 assists.

It will be a long time -- if ever -- before Penn State has another player of Battle's caliber. He was always the ultimate gamer who not only compiled a lot of stats, but also was able to will his team to victory by delivering so many times in the clutch.

"I can leave here and say I tried to give everything, give it my all for four years," Battle said. "Ups and downs, I competed my whole career and never gave up."

Mirror Staff Writer Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031.

***********************

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Heroes are made in the NCAA Tournament, and for 13.6 seconds Thursday, Penn State's Talor Battle was the hero.

Then Temple's Juan Fernandez stole his thunder.

Fernandez buried an off-balance 18-foot jumper from the right elbow to hand Penn State a crushing 66-64 loss at the McKale Center on the University of Arizona campus.

Battle, PSU's career scoring leader, hit a 27-foot 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining to tie the game at 64.

It's the kind of shot Battle has hit so many times in his career. Only this time around, Temple still had enough time for its own heroics.

The Owls worked the ball up to Fernandez with time winding down. PSU's Tim Frazier guarded Fernandez closely and prevented him from getting an open shot, but Fernandez managed to free himself enough for a leaner that went through with 0.4 seconds to go.

Penn State inbounded, but Frazier missed a three-quarter court shot as time expired.

The Nittany Lions, playing in their first NCAA Tournament in 10 years, hung tough with Temple throughout the second half despite playing short-handed. Jeff Brooks, PSU's second-leading scorer, left the game with a shoulder injury with 18:53 to play.

Check back later for more coverage.

 
 
 

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