As the final buzzer sounded and Penn State walked off with its first win in conference play, it was only right that the ball was in the hands of Jermaine Marshall.
The ball had already been in his hand for most of the crucial moments late in the game, as the Nittany Lions upset No. 4 Michigan 84-78 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The redshirt junior finished with 25 points on 8-for-17 shooting and 6-for-10 from three-point territory along with six rebounds to lead the Lions. But what truly stood out were the clutch plays Marshall made late in the game as the Lions came back from a 15-point deficit the final 10 minutes.
“Man, he was incredible tonight,” redshirt sophomore D.J. Newbill said of his backcourt mate. “The thing about Jermaine is that he can miss a shot but will still have the confidence to make the next one. It’s a testament to his hard work.”
After a relatively slow start offensively, Marshall knocked down four three pointers in the second half, including one with 4:53 remaining that tied the game 74-74. The Lions never trailed after this point.
However, Marshall’s most pivotal play came with just 1:06 remaining.
Michigan’s Trey Burke made two free throws to bring his team to within one at 79-78. On the next possession, Marshall received the ball at the top of the key where he drove left, spun off of a defender, and finished with a left-handed scoop in the paint. The basket put all of the momentum the Lions way, and Michigan never scored again.
“Coach put the ball in my hand. He’s got trust in me and believed I was going to make a play,” Marshall said. “It rolled around the rim and went down.”
Michigan’s coach John Beilein applauded Marshall’s ability to get to the basket against his defense in his post game press conference.
“Their guys hit shots that they can hit, Marshall was just terrific,” Beilein said. “Marshall went north and south and beat us over and over again or drew fouls on it. We have to see action and react to it a little bit better.”
Marshall’s performance allowed him to bounce back after the Lions’ last home game against Iowa on Feb. 14. Late in the game, Marshall went 1-4 from the free throw line and made a foul shot that he tried to intentionally miss that ended the game as Penn State lost by two points.
Against Michigan, Marshall made two free throws with less than four minutes that gave Penn State the lead for the rest of the game.
Despite his heroics, Marshall played the night off as he looks to the final three games on the Lions schedule.
“Great win, we enjoy it today,” Marshall said. “Tomorrow, unfortunately its over. We have to move on. [We have] another game Saturday, go out and do what we do — play hard rebound and defend.”