Defense and overall great team play helped to lead Penn State to a 82-66 victory over Utah in the NIT Championship game held at Madison Square Garden on March 29.
Lamar Stevens scored 28 points to earn the Most Valuable Player Award for the Nittany Lions, Josh Reaves had 18 and Tony Carr had 15 points and 14 assists for Penn State. Stevens was able to reach a personal milestone at the 3;09 mark in the First Quarter, as the Forward reached the 1,000 career point plateau. He is just the second sophomore in Penn State history to reach the milestone joining Carr.
The clutch moment for the Nittany Lions came in the third quarter when Garner — Penn State’s career 3-point leader — hit a 3 for his first basket of the game and a 49-41 lead that had the fans going wild. Reaves was a literal ‘Superman’ for Penn State, scoring several impressive buckets during the course of the night, including a crashing layup on a three-point play that stretched the lead to 11.
This is the first NIT Title for Penn State since 2009. Penn State’s road started by defeating Temple in the opening round and then beating Notre Dame and Marquette before facing Mississippi State in the semifinals.
The Nittany Lions end their season with a 26-13 record overall and went 9-9 in Big Ten play. The program last won 25 or more games in the 2008-09 season when the team also won the NIT, finishing with a 27-11 record.
1495 Sports encourages fans to check out the following videos:
The Crowning of the 2018 NIT Champions and Celebration on the Floor:
Postgame Press Conference:
Head Coach Patrick Chambers along with Student-Athletes Tony Carr, Lamar Stevens, Shep Garner:
Photo Gallery from the Championship Celebration:
Utah 23-11 Record. This is the third time in program history that the team has made it into the NIT Championship Game. The last time the team won the championship was 1947. The Utes hold a 2-1 all-time record in the Final
The Utes and Nittany Lions will meet up for just the second time in a series that dates back to 1971. Ironically, Utah and Penn State will meet at Madison Square Garden for the second time in as many meetings. Penn State won the first-ever meeting between the two teams, downing the Utes 80-69 in the ECAC Holiday Basketball Classic back on Dec. 28, 1971. The game was played at Madison Square Garden in New York.
This marks the 44th post-season appearance in school history, and the 14th appearance for the Utes in the NIT. Utah is making its second-consecutive NIT appearance after earning an at-large bid into the tournament last season.
Utah is 4-2 all-time when playing NIT games in Salt Lake City, 2-3 in NIT road games and 9-7 all-time when playing NIT games at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Nittany Lions Notes:
The Nittany Lions are participating in their 11th National Invitation Tournament and are 26-9 overall with a 1-1 record in final games. Penn State’s last appearance in the finals was in 2009 when Penn State defeated Baylor 69-63 at Madison Square Garden for the championship.
This is the first ever meeting between Penn State and a Pac-12 institution in an NIT contest. Penn State has played only six teams located west of the Mississippi River in NIT games: Baylor, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico and San Francisco.
Penn State men’s basketball has played at Madison Square Garden 25 times, including 21 times at the current building.
The Nittany Lions are 14-7 in MSG IV with their most recent game, a win over Mississippi State in the NIT semifinals March 27 in “The Mecca.”
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