Shep Garner made a three-pointer that helped send Penn State on its way to an NIT championship in an 82-66 victory over Utah on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The fourth-seeded Nittany Lions (26-13) also knocked off No. 1 seed Notre Dame in the tournament en route to winning their first NIT title since 2009.
Lamar Stevens scored 28 points and Tony Carr had 15 points and 14 assists for Penn State. Sedrick Barefield made six three-pointers and scored 22 points for second-seeded Utah (23-12).
The clutch moment came in the third quarter when Garner — Penn State’s career three-point leader — connected for his first basket of the game and a 49-41 lead.
Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, who averaged 19.2 points and led the Wildcats to the Final Four, is the Associated Press player of the year.
The junior point guard earned 36 of 65 votes from the same panel that selects the AP top 25, with ballots submitted before the start of the NCAA tournament.
Oklahoma freshman Trae Young was second with 15 votes after leading the country in scoring (27.4).
A’ja Wilson of South Carolina is the women’s player of the year, the first player from the school to win the award, and Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw earned the coaching honor.
Michigan State forward Nick Ward is submitting his name for the NBA draft but hasn’t hired an agent. ... Daryl Thomas, who was a starter on Indiana’s 1987 NCAA championship team, has died at age 52. Thomas threw the pass to Keith Smart for the game-winning jump shot against Syracuse in the championship game.