STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)(March 22) - Jarrett Stephens, playing in his final game at home,
had 24 points and 10 rebounds as Penn State beat Kent 81-74 on
March 22 to advance to the NIT semifinals for the second time in three years.
Joe Crispin added 18 points, including eight free throws in the final minute for the Nittany Lions (18-15), who are fast forgetting their ninth-place finish in the Big
Eric Thomas had 18 points, while Andrew Mitchell and Demetric Shaw added 15 each for the Golden Flashes (23-8).
The Lions go to New York on Tuesday to face the winner of Wednesday's Notre Dame-BYU game.
Penn State reached the semifinals the last time it was in the tournament, losing to Minnesota in the 1998 final.
Kent led by as much as seven points early, but the largest margin for either team in the second half was four until Penn State pulled ahead in the final four minutes.
With the Lions up 54-53, Cline-Heard tipped in a miss. On the next play, he stumbled, then recovered to nab a pass inside. At the other end, he scored inside to
make it 58-53. And after Cline-Heard grabbed another miss by Kent, Crispin hit a 3-pointer that gave Penn State a 61-53 lead with 2:38 to play, its biggest lead.
Cline-Heard's dunk on a fast break made it 67-59.
Kent cut the lead to 77-74 on Thomas' 3-pointer with 7.1 second left, but Crispin hit two free throws and Stephens stole the inbounds pass and scored as Penn
State held on.