Penn State holds off Cavs, 69-66

Story by Scott German
UVa. sports:

Scoring 28 of his game-high 32 points in the second half, Talor Battle led the Penn State Nittany Lions past Virginia 69-66 in the opening game of this week’s ACC-Big Ten challenge Monday evening in John Paul Jones Arena.

It was a game of momentum, as Penn State overcame a six-point halftime deficit to gain what appeared to be a secure lead at 55-43 with four minutes left in the game. Virginia, however, refused to go quietly and rode a barrage of three-point shots to close to within one at 67-66 with five seconds remaining.

Forced to foul, the Cavaliers sent Battle to the foul line, where two made free throws to seal the win.

Sylven Landensberg ignited the Virginia comeback bid with a banked three from top of the key. Sammy Zeglinski added three treys in the final two minutes, but in the end Virginia was unable to climb out of the 12-point hole.

Penn State, the defending National Invitational Tournament champion, became the first Big Ten team to win three straight games in the annual made-for-television matchup of conferences. The Nittany Lions defeated Virginia Tech in 2007 and last season won in Atlanta over Georgia Tech.

Virginia, playing its first game since returning from a 1-1 road trip in Cancun Mexico, opened the contest strong, paced by Mike Scott, who was perfect on all six first-half field-goal attempts. Scott’s stickback basket late in the half gave UVa. its biggest lead at 27-17, but a final 4-0 Penn State run sliced the deficit to six at the break 27-21.

The Nittany Lions started strong in the second half, fueled by Battle’s 10 quick points to spark a 23-7 run. That start gave Penn State a double-digit margin that they managed before Zeglinski found the range to pull the Cavaliers back.

Landensberg led Virginia in scoring with 18 points, followed by Scott’s 17 and Zeglinski with 16, all in the second half.

Battle’s 32-point total included five second-half threes. Tim Frazier scored 11 for Penn State, which improved to 5-3 on the season. Virginia falls to 4-3 on the year and plays at Auburn next Monday evening.

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