Sizzling for most of the game, Penn State went cold at the worst time.
The Nittany Lions missed five consecutive shots inside the last 53 seconds as Mississippi netted a 79-76 victory in the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic. Penn State (6-2) had its five-game winning streak snapped, while the Rebels (6-0) remained unbeaten.
The final seconds ruined the Nittany Lions’ comeback from a 13-point first-half deficit. D.J. Newbill scored 23 points before fouling out late, while Ross Travis had 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Marshall Henderson and Jarvis Summers each had 19 points and combined for 11 of last 12 points for the Rebels, who trailed by seven points in the second half.
Penn State, which trailed 44-39 at halftime, opened the second half on fire, especially from long distance. Brandon Taylor, Donovon Jack and Newbill nailed 3-pointers in a 13-6 run that gave the Nittany Lions a 52-50 lead. Travis’ three-point play and baskets by Allen Roberts and Newbill pushed the Penn State lead to 59-52 with 131/2 minutes remaining.
“We just tried to go hard with energy and they started missing shots,” Newbill said of the rally.
Ole Miss bounced back, squaring the game at 61-61 on Sebastian Saiz’s left-handed hook with 101/2 minutes left.
From there, the lead see-sawed between the two teams.
A Newbill 3-pointer gave Penn State its last lead at 68-67 with 5:56 left. Henderson then drove the left baseline and his floater gave the Rebels the lead for good. With Tim Frazier playing tight defense, Henderson nailed his fourth 3-pointer of the game to push the lead to 72-68. A free throw by Summers pushed the margin to 73-68.
Penn State would rally with a 6-2 run, punctuated by Newbill’s steal and vicious dunk over Henderson with 1:30 left. But on Mississippi’s next possession, Newbill was whistled for a foul while Henderson was launching a 3-pointer. Henderson, whose teammates had missed 7 of 11 free throws, made all three to push the lead to 78-74 with 1:14 left.
“When a 3-point shooter gets fouled I think it switches momentum,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. “It is such a huge play. Marshall has huge elevation and singlehandedly he has been fouled taking a 3 more than all the players I have coached combined. He literally gets it at least once a game. Players are so amped to cover him and not let catch and shoot but he gets a little bit of an angle and he can get it off.”
“It was a tough play, a critical play but one the ref has to call,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said of the call. “But when you start out the way we started, sleepwalking, we didn’t deserve to win.”
Nittany Lions went cold from there. Frazier missed three of the Nittany Lions next five shots as Penn State could not take advantage of the Rebels going 1 for 3 from the line in the final 35 seconds. Travis’ alley-oop dunk at the buzzer ended the drought.
Chambers said the game wasn’t lost in the final seconds. He was disappointed in his team’s start. Mississippi canned seven of its first nine shots to get a quick 17-10 lead. After two Travis free throws, the Rebels made three 3-pointers in an 11-3 run that pushed the lead to 28-15.
“I am thoroughly disappointed in the way we started the game,” Chambers said. “We can’t start games like that against a team with guards who can shoot like that.”
Henderson had three 3-pointers and 11 points in the half.
“Marshall does what Marshall does,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said of Henderson. “He plays around and takes crazy shots and changes the ebb and flow of the game. I see him make one 3 and then play close attention. He can shoot it a couple more times really quickly.”
Summers finished 7 of 10 from the floor and had 10 points in the second half.
“Jarvis is our leading scorer coming in and he was in foul trouble both games here but he is our most experienced player and when they hit us in the mouth in the second half he got in his rhythm,” Kennedy said. “I trust him. He was the guy who made plays for us.”
Newbill was the the star once again for the Nittany Lions. Coming off a 25-point effort in an overtime win over St. John’s on Friday, Newbill was 10 of 14 from the floor.
The usually reliable Frazier had a tough night from the floor, making just 3 of 13 attempts and scoring nine points. He did have 10 assists and just one turnover.
Penn State shot 48 percent (28 of 59) for the game. Mississippi shot 46 percent (30 of 65) and made 11 of 24 3-point attempts. The Rebels’ bench outscored the Nittany Lions’ bench 28-11.
Penn State next travels to Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Notes: Penn State dropped to 0-3 all-time against Mississippi. ... The Nittany Lions dropped to 72-86 all-time in early season tournaments. ... St. John’s defeated Georgia Tech 69-58 in the third-place game. ... Newbill has scored 23 or more points in three of the last four games. ... Travis recorded his seventh double-double of his career and second this season.