D.J. Newbill eyed the clock as he dribbled to the right side of the court with the game in his hands.
One of the nation’s top guards was standing in the way of him and Penn State snapping its 18-game losing streak to Ohio State.
Seconds ticked away with the Nittany Lions down one. That is, until he made his move. Newbill used a crossover dribble to the left, leaving Aaron Craft trying to regain his step.
It was too late.
Newbill lifted from the top of the key to hit the jump shot that silenced not only Value City Arena, but also the city of Columbus.
With just 1.9 seconds remaining, Penn State was ahead by one against Ohio State.
Craft struggled to get a handle on the ball as the clock expired, resulting in the Lions (11-10, Big Ten 2-6) defeating the No. 23 Buckeyes (16-5, Big Ten 3-5), 71-70.
“I knew that they were going to try and stop me from going right,” Newbill said. “They were shading left all night, so I just did a right-to-left crossover and pulled up with confidence. Luckily, it went down.”
The redshirt junior had an astounding night from the field as he dropped 25 points accompanied with eight rebounds.
Newbill was as clutch as any player could have been in the final moments of the game.
With less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, Penn State began to chip away, down 59-49.
Newbill began his tear through the Buckeye defense.
“Every four minutes just try and chip away at the lead,” Newbill said. “Keep playing, sticking together and play for each other.”
Eventually cutting the deficit to just three, senior Tim Frazier controlled the rock with 1:06 remaining.
Ohio State was scattered across the court as it tried to recover to Newbill, who caught Frazier’s cross-court pass.
The Philadelphia native rose and hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer to tie the game, 62-62.
“It felt good coming off my hand,” Newbill said. “Tim [Frazier] delivered a perfect pin-point pass.”
The following possession, Craft drove the lane, hitting an acrobatic layup to put Ohio State back ahead.
Frazier responded by drawing a foul, but the 80 percent free throw shooter failed to convert on either of his attempts. The Lions were forced to foul to stop the clock 27.3 seconds left.
Lenzelle Smith Jr. hit one of two from the charity stripe to give his squad a three-point lead, but Newbill wasn’t finished.
Off of a dribble handoff from freshman Graham Woodward, Newbill hit yet another 3-pointer to tie it at 65 and force overtime.
“Graham [Woodward] did an incredible job pitching the ball right where I needed it and I just shot it with confidence,” Newbill said. “Coach drew up some great plays; we executed.”
In the extra minutes, the two Big Ten teams went punch for punch. Ohio State responded to Penn State’s first bucket by scoring five straight points to lead by three.
But again, Newbill came to the rescue.
As the shot clock began to close in on zero, he split two Ohio State defenders and finished with a right-handed layup.
Lions were down one.
“All we were saying in the huddle was attitude, attitude, attitude, attitude,” Newbill said. “Coach just kept screaming, ‘Keep digging. Keep digging.’”
Penn State dug as deep as it could and then some, as seconds later Newbill hit the game-winning shot.
Of the 12 points scored by the visitors in the final six minutes, 11 were by the game’s hero, Newbill.
“That was a big time shot,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. “He hit a tough pull-up and Aaron [Craft] had him in front of him.”
Newbill wasn’t the only player who made an impact in the upset victory.
Fellow backcourt player Frazier filled up the stat sheet with eight points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Forward Brandon Taylor was feeling it from behind the arc as he hit four, contributing to a 19-point evening.
As a whole, Penn State shot exceptional from the field at 48.3 percent, hitting nine 3-point shots.
“They’re really executing with great confidence,” said coach Patrick Chambers. “They deserved to get one back.”
Prior to the upset victory, the Lions had fallen short four times in the last five games by four points or less.
The road win in a hostile environment proved that they could hang with the best and close out opponents, even if it takes a dramatic finish.
Mike Kilcoyne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 865-1828.Follow him on Twitter at @mjkilcoyne3.