Advertisement
  1. Archive

Nittany Lions topple Tar Heels

In a win bigger for the program than the team, Penn State reaches the Sweet 16.

Move over Joe Paterno. Penn State's basketball program wants a share of the spotlight.

Penn State made big news Sunday with one of the biggest upsets of the NCAA Tournament, an 82-74 victory over No. 2-seed North Carolina.

"This is the best," Titus Ivory yelled as he and the rest of the team danced at midcourt.

The victory over a North Carolina team that advanced to the Final Four last year sent the No. 7-seeded Nittany Lions to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1955. They play No. 11 seed Temple on Friday night. The Nittany Lions beat Temple 66-60 this season.

Ivory and Joe Crispin each scored 21 for Penn State. Gyasi Cline-Heard added 19.

"I'm definitely looking forward to my high school reunion," said Ivory, who is from Charlotte, N.C., and had once hoped to play for the Tar Heels. "I can go home with my head held high."

North Carolina outshot the Lions 47-44 percent and outrebounded them 44-33. But Penn State had 18 steals and 11 turnovers compared with the Tar Heels' 5 steals and 22 turnovers.

"We wanted to put a lot of pressure on their outside shooters because they knew they could really hurt us," Cline-Heard said. "Then we just hoped for the best in the lane."

It was North Carolina's first loss this season when outshooting an opponent.

"It was a frustrating game," tearful coach Matt Doherty said. "They had 28 points off turnovers and that hurt. I don't know if I'll ever watch the tape. You can't turn the ball over 22 times and expect to win the game."

Julius Peppers led North Carolina with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Brendan Haywood had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Jason Capel and Kris Lang each scored 12.

The Tar Heels staggered at the end of a season that once looked so promising. They were ranked No. 1 and had built an 18-game winning steak when they lost 75-65 to Clemson, the worst team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, on Feb. 18. That sent North Carolina into a tailspin that saw the team head into the NCAAs with four losses in its last eight games.

While the Heels have been racking up 20-win seasons (20 in 31 years), trips to the NCAA Tournament (27 straight) and national titles (3), Penn State has been a basketball nonentity. The Nittany Lions have no conference championships, no All-Americans and three NCAA appearances the past 35 years.

The last time Penn State and North Carolina played, Doherty was playing for Carolina.

At the start it looked like another blowout for Carolina, which advanced to the second round with a 70-48 victory over Princeton.

The Tar Heels took a 19-8 lead seven minutes in and owned the area under the baskets. Penn State didn't get an offensive rebound for the first 14{ minutes.

"We knew we had an advantage inside," Haywood said. "We wanted to go to it. Our inside game was very effective at times."

But the Nittany Lions had nine steals and only three turnovers in the first half to offset Carolina's 25-10 rebounding margin. Penn State also made four three-pointers and was down 40-39 at the break.

Penn State opened the second half with a 16-6 run and led 55-46 with 13:11 remaining.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement