NEW YORK - Jamelle Cornley had tears in his eyes.
The senior forward's 18 points sparked Penn State to a 69-63 victory over Baylor in the National Invitation Tournament championship game at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.
And after receiving the NIT's most outstanding player honors, Cornley could not mask his emotions.
He blew kisses to the raucous Penn State crowd, which witnessed the school's first-ever championship of a national basketball tournament (NIT or NCAA), and he wept openly.
The Nittany Lions, at 27-11, set a school record for wins and cut down the nets.
"This moment," Cornley said afterward, "is the best moment of my life."
Despite playing with a heavily-bandaged dislocated left shoulder and despite being undersized for his position, the 6-foot-5 Cornley, as he has all year, set the tone inside for the Lions.
He scored 10 of PSU's first 19 points and after scoring twice down low to open the second half, pulling the Nits within 30-29, he freed his perimeter teammates.
"Cornley controlled a lot of things," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "We didn't have enough answers for him."
When the Bears began crowding Cornley, Penn State's floor spacing improved along with its 3-point shooting. Locked at 37 after Drew was hit with a technical with 13:25 left - "I apologized to my team for getting that then," he said later - PSU senior Danny Morrissey knocked down consecutive left-corner treys to create some breathing room.
Penn State shot 54 percent in the second half, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range.
"The guys on the bench kept telling me to shoot," Morrissey said.
"We used (freshman Chris) Babb a little bit in the first half," State coach Ed DeChellis said. "But I just felt in my gut tonight Danny was going to do something. I think at this point in time, your senior year, you give your seniors a crack at it."
Moments after Morrissey's second trey of the half and third of the game, Jeff Brooks added another, and the Lions' lead swelled to 46-37 midway through the second half.
That's when standout guard Talor Battle, held scoreless for the game's first 26 minutes, took over. The ace sophomore scored three times in the last 10 minutes, including two drives and a bounced-in 3-pointer from the top of the key, to keep Penn State's edge at or near double figures.
"We kept talking about once we get lead to hammer it down," Morrissey said. "We did a good job of burying them."
Baylor (24-15) hit a couple of late 3-pointers to draw as close as five points, but Penn State put the game away at the free throw line. The Lions wound up outscoring the Bears 18-5 from the line.
"It got physical out there," Baylor guard Curtis Jerrells said. "We were able to battle them, but I mean - what's his name - Cornley, he's a pretty big dude, and he played his tail off tonight."
Cornley got a late technical foul, and Morrissey was injured while diving for a loose ball in the last few minutes and was helped from the court. He returned, his nose bloodied, for the post-game celebration.
"We've got tough kids, and we are going to compete," DeChellis said. "That's been our trademark. That play kind of typifies what I think our team has been all year."
Notes: Along with Cornley, Battle was voted to the all-tourney team. ... Both teams committed 12 turnovers ... Nits outshot Bears from the foul line 28-6.