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Tuesday March 24, 2009UF Falls to Penn State in NIT Quarterfinals, 71-62

Gainesville, Fla.

Freshman guard Erving Walker (Brooklyn, N.Y.) scored 16 points, but the Gators couldn’t overcome Penn State down the stretch as Florida’s run in the NIT ended Tuesday night with a 71-62 loss in the quarterfinals at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.


The Gators finish with a 25-11 record and their 11th-straight 20-win season. The Nittany Lions (25-11) advanced to the semifinals to play either Kentucky or Notre Dame in New York's Madison Square Garden next week.


Sophomore guard Nick Calathes (Casselberry, Fla.) made a layup with 4:22 remaining in the first half to put the Gators up 32-25. Walker hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, Werner tipped in a missed shot and then Walker hit another one from behind the arc to put Florida up 30-25.


Calathes’ layup made it a seven-point game, but the Gators didn't score again in the opening 20 minutes. Penn State scored the final eight points of the half and went into the locker room with a 33-32 advantage.


Penn State opened up a 10-point lead with 5:39 to play in the second half, but the Gators used a late run to cut the lead to 61-59. Penn State turned to Jamelle Cornley down the stretch. The senior made a basket then got a key rebound on the other end to kill Florida’s momentum.


David Jackson hit a turnaround jumper with 1 second on the shot clock to make it 65-59 with a minute to play, then Talor Battle sealed the victory with four free throws in the final 28 seconds.


Calathes missed two 3-pointers in the final minutes for Florida (25-11). He finished with 10 points and seven assists.


Walker made four of the team's five 3-pointers, and sophomore forward Alex Tyus (St. Louis, Mo.) added 15 points and eight rebounds. Senior Walter Hodge (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) scored seven points in his final appearance for the Gators at the O’Connell Center.


Cornley had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Nittany Lions, while Stanley Pringle added 15 points, including five 3-pointers. Jackson added 14 points for Penn State, and Battle chipped in 13.



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