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NCAA Game Summary - Notre Dame vs. Penn State
(Tuesday, March 31st)
Final Score: Penn State 67, Notre Dame 59
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Jamelle Cornley and Andrew Jones' physical play in the post proved too much for Notre Dame to handle, as the duo combined for 31 points and 23 rebounds to lead Penn State to the finals of the NIT with a 67-59 decision over the Fighting Irish at Madison Square Garden.
The Nittany Lions (26-11), who never trailed in the game, set a school record for wins and will next play Baylor in the championship round on Thursday. The Bears knocked out San Diego State, 76-62, in Tuesday's other semifinal.
"This was a goal we had. When things didn't go well for us (on getting an at- large bid into the NCAA Tournament), we told them we had a chance to win a championship," Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis said. "This will be another first for us. I'm not going to see the seniors go without giving it our best shot."
Cornley finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Jones logged 16 points and 15 boards for Penn State, which fell just short of an NCAA Tournament bid after being upended by Purdue in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tourney.
Talor Battle logged a team-high 17 points for the victors.
Notre Dame (21-15), ranked No. 9 coming into the season, could not overcome a brutal offensive performance in the first half to end the disappointing campaign on a sour note. Luke Harangody finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Kyle McAlarney was held to nine points on 3-of-12 shooting.
The Irish trailed by as many as 19 in the second half but made a game of it with one last surge. Harangody ended a five-minute scoreless drought with a bucket, sparking a 12-0 run to pull within 47-42 with just under six minutes to play.
The margin remained at six when Notre Dame missed two three-pointers near the three-minute mark. At the other end, Jones hit two free throws after pulling down a big offensive carom, giving the Lions a 53-47 edge.
Luke Zeller came through with a big trey for the Irish, but Cornley muscled his way inside for a layup off a nice pass from Battle for a five-point game with two minutes left.
An inexcusable shot clock violation on Notre Dame's next possession forced the Irish to foul the rest of the way, and Penn State hit enough from the stripe to come away with the victory over the Big East program.
Notre Dame opened the game 1-for-10 from the floor and Penn State ripped off 11 of the game's first 13 points to take the early lead.
"The game plan was to try and push (Harangody) off the block," Jones said. "We tried to play with him a bit, get him out of his comfort zone."
While the Irish continued to struggle from the floor, the Nittany Lions got to the basket early and often against Notre Dame's sieve of a defense. Battle's three-point play followed by back-to-back layups from Jones and another from Battle capped a 15-2 run, giving PSU a 29-10 lead with three minutes left before the break.
The halftime score was 31-18, the Irish's lowest scoring output in an opening half in Mike Brey's nine-year tenure in South Bend.
"We lost to a heck of a team," Brey said. "They have 26 wins and I can see why. They really defend. I'm proud of our group, especially our seniors, to get us back to New York."
Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was in attendance...Notre Dame is now 26-11 in this event, while Penn State improved to 21-9...Both teams were No. 2 seeds in the tournament...Penn State's road to New York came in the form of victories over George Mason -- in overtime -- Rhode Island and Florida... Notre Dame, after losing to West Virginia in the second round of the Big East Tournament, knocked off UAB, New Mexico and Kentucky to advance to the semifinals...Stanley Pringle had 10 points for Penn State...Tory Jackson had nine points for the Irish, who shot 33.3 percent for the game.
04/01 01:54:10 ET