Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lions' Special Finish Falters Overtime Loss Quiets Raucous Rec Hall Princeton 81, Penn State 79

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lions' Special Finish Falters Overtime Loss Quiets Raucous Rec Hall Princeton 81, Penn State 79

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It was the play Penn State wanted. Coach Patrick Chambers told his players in a timeout that if Princeton used deep single coverage, they should attempt a full-court pass.

Sure enough, Princeton lined up in that formation, guard Tim Frazier snuck behind the defense and was open next to the basket.

It was the atmosphere Penn State wanted, too. Rec Hall, for this special event, "The Return to Rec," was packed. Students wore white Frazier t-shirts and blue Santa Claus caps. They were loud and they cared, and they stood for the final seconds of overtime.

Frazier's shot rimmed out. Princeton won, 81-79, in overtime Saturday afternoon after trailing by as many as 20 points in the second half.

Penn State fell to 8-4.

"We missed a great opportunity," guard D.J. Newbill said. "We had everything we wanted. We had the fans here, the new jerseys, with everybody back. We were playing good basketball. We just let it slip away."

For the first time in his two-plus years at Penn State, Chambers saw a line for a basketball game. Students arrived early to Rec Hall for the first game in 17 years in the bandbox, built in the 1920s and used for everything from boxing, to speeches by famous figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., to intramurals, to volleyball and to wrestling.

The games here in the early 1990s attained cult-legend status. An upset against a No. 1 Indiana team would have happened if not for an incorrect officiating call in a game Chambers attended. He had snuck in with his sisters. He knew the place was special.

By game time Chambers said he had focused on basketball, but at 8:30 a.m. he let his mind wander. He went up to the top of Rec Hall with his daughter, surveying the scene. He and other members of the Penn State athletic department worked strenuously over several months to solve the logistical nightmare this event presented.

"We're a free throw away, a stop away from sitting up here, celebrating," Chambers said. …

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