NEW YORK – Flavour Flav tipped his red cap backwards as he pulled out his iPhone on Madison Square Garden Court. Flav kept the camera quiet and cousin Shep Garner took the last threads of the championship net and waved it against Penn State fans.
Flav's T-shirt at NIT said it all for the Nittany Lions: Believe the hype!
Garner hit the 3-pointer, which brought rapper and reality star Flavour Flav to their feet and helped Penn State on his way to a NIT title in an 82-66 victory over Utah on Thursday night.
The fourth – Sitted Nittany Lions (26-13) also clinched Notre Dame # 1 in the tournament on her way to winning her first ever NIT title since 2009.
"That's what the whole world means to me now," said Flavour Flav.
They were also pretty excited in Happy Valley.
"I think we set the standard," Garner said. "We preach defense and rebound, but now we have something we can always go to, we have won something, we are champions."
Flavour Flav, member of the groundbreaking rap group Public Enemy from the '80s, sang "Fight the Power" as it exploded in the garden and the PSU student group "Flav! Flav! Flav!" As the Nittany Lions under coach Pat Chambers came through for a program-defining championship.
Lamar Stevens scored 28 points, Josh Reaves 18 and Tony Carr 15 points and 14 assists for Penn State.
Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center has a long standing reputation as one of the bleakest arenas in college basketball. Penn State fans, from rappers to silver-haired graduates, packed the garden into the last row of the upper deck.
Penn State football coach James Franklin, who led the program to a Pinstripe Bowl victory in 2014, was in the house. Flavour Flav stole the show a few rows behind the PSU bench. In a T-shirt with the inscription "33 Shep Garner" Flavour Flav danced the whole night in his place. Flavour Flav placed his T-shirt and raised the roof in the same arena where the public enemy once ripped the house.
"I think we've proven teams across the country that Penn State basketball will stay here," said Chambers.
The clutch moment came in the third quarter when Garner – Penn State's career 3-point leader in the tournament run – hit a 3 for his first basket of the game and a 49-41 lead that made the fans go wild.
"If my cousin breaks records, wins trophies, he deserves," Flavour Flav said. "The whole team deserves it."
Reaves hit a falling layup in a three-point game that took the lead to 11 and Stevens wagged his tongue toward the PSU fans on a jumper that helped to inflate the game.
Flavour Flav lifted an arm in the air as Garner scored a 3: 4 for the 68: 49 final.
The last few minutes of course brought some flavor to the ear – half of the MSG fans sang "We Are!" And the other half yelled "Penn State!"
Sedrick Barefield scored six 3s and scored 22 points for second-placed Utah (23-12).
"You always watch the NIT and maybe you're thinking about the consolation prize or whatever," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak. "They have no idea how cool that was for us."
Utah: David Collette, Justin Bibbins and Tyler Rawson are among the seniors who move on. … Bibbins scored 15 points
Penn State: Stevens reached 1,000 career points was named as the most outstanding player. … Chambers, a former assistant coach under Jay Wright in Villanova, took over in 2011 and struggled to achieve regular results. The Nittany Lions have never made the NCAA Tournament under Chambers and they have their second win in seven seasons. But the 26 victories of Penn State are the second highest in the history of the program. The Nittany Lions won a record 27 games in 2008-09.
The 11,175 MSG fans were the most in a NIT finals since 2005.
"And they say we're a football school," cracked Chambers.
The NIT was a bit of a mad scientist in the college basketball lab. The game was four quarters of an hour long. The tournament also implements the FIBA 3-point line (22 feet, 1.75 inches), 16-inch NBA-width lane, and a 20-second shot clock after offensive rebounds.
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