The Turning Point - Big Ten Tournament Championship Game
By Tony Gerdeman
Penn State's Talor Battle got started
quickly yesterday, making two three-pointers in the first three
minutes of the game against the Buckeyes to give Nittany
Lions an early 6-5 lead.
But then Jon Diebler wasted no time
connecting on a three-pointer of his own, giving the Buckeyes their
second lead of the game at 8-6 with 16:56 left in the game. Despite a couple of Penn State runs, that lead would never be
There was no way to tell
that that slim lead would never be breached, especially considering
the offensive drought the Buckeyes went in late in the second half.
Ohio State went nearly six minutes without scoring, letting ing a
seven-point lead turn into a one-point lead.
But the Buckeyes closed strong, as they
tend to do. With the final possession of the first half, Diebler
attempted to find some room for a last-second three-pointer, and when
he couldn't find any, he decided to shoot anyway, and he made it.
He turned a 26-23 lead into a 29-23 lead and gave Ohio State the
momentum heading into halftime.
“The shot before the half was a big
shot by Jon Diebler, kind of got them a little momentum,” Penn
State coach Ed DeChellis said.
“I've been watching him do it all
year now, whether it's in practice or in games like that,” said
Aaron Craft. “He's a big time player and he made a big time shot.”
While it certainly gave the
Buckeyes a boost, it also sapped any momentum that was on the side of
the Nittany Lions.
“It was a big shot,” admitted Penn
State's Jeff Brooks.
“When I got taken out of the game to give me a
little rest and he makes that shot, I could just tell that they got
that momentum going for themselves, especially Diebler, that was a
big shot for him and that got them going for the second half. That
was a big play, and he's a good player. That's why he made that
When the opponent talks about one
singular shot, you know it made a difference in the game, but
Diebler wasn't done. The second half opened with two empty
possessions followed by a run-out that saw Aaron Craft find Diebler
alone in the corner in transition, and Diebler made the Nittany Lions
pay with yet another three-point field goal.
What just a few virtual minutes ago was
a three-point lead was now a nearly insurmountable nine-point lead,
and any Penn State hopes were almost completely dashed.
three-pointers by Diebler were most certainly the turning point in
the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game.
“It was a huge momentum boost,
especially because I thought we defended him pretty well,” Talor
Battle said of Diebler's first three-pointer. “We were scrambling,
I was right there in his face, and he just knocked it in. It took the
lead from three to six and gave them a little momentum going into the
half, and then he buries one right
at the start of the second half.”
It's difficult to muster up a comeback
when the opponent has consistently timely answers. That's what happened to Penn
State. The Buckeyes went cold for a long stretch of the game before
Diebler's three-pointers. but those two baskets fueled a Buckeye
stronghold on the lead that eventually saw them stretch their
advantage to 17 points several times before finally winning by
“I think we're very hard to match up
with for other teams for their defense,” said Diebler, focusing on
his team rather than himself. “We've got a lot of guys who can make
But even if he won't talk about
himself, he has teammates who will.
“It's ridiculous some of the shots
that he makes,” said Craft.
“He does it in practice, and when
we'll be playing one-on-one in the summer. Every time he makes one I
get really excited and happy.”
They say every action has an equal and
opposite reaction, and if his teammates are “excited and happy”
when Diebler makes a three-pointer, just imagine what it does to his
Actually, you don't even have to
imagine. You merely have to watch the Big Ten Tournament
Championship Game again.
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