UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) – No. 11 Iowa overcame its second-half scoring drought to lift the Hawkeyes to a 74-68 win over the Penn State men’s basketball team Sunday afternoon in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Penn State’s (7-12, 4-11) swarming defense held Iowa (17-6, 11-5) 13 points below its scoring average and forced 16 turnovers, a season high for the Hawkeyes, during the Big Ten battle.
“I thought it was a really hard, hard-fought game by both teams, the guys really battled,” said interim head coach Jim Ferry. “Obviously, we had a stretch where we went seven minutes without scoring and in a really tight game on the road against the No. 10 (11) team in the country, you just can’t do that. I thought we had some pretty good looks at the basket. I’m proud of our guys’ effort.”
Scoring droughts for both teams marked the second half with Iowa going without a field goal for two four-minute spans and Penn State unable to make a shot for seven minutes. With the game tied at 54 at 12:10, neither team could make a basket until Hawkeye center Luka Garza ended the Iowa stretch with a layup at the 8:18 mark for a 56-54 score.
After the under-eight-minute timeout, the Hawkeyes put together a 14-4 run to take a 70-61 lead with 4:05 left in the game. Despite struggling with their shooting from the field over a stretch of seven minutes, Penn State scored eight points, all coming from the free throw line, and made defensive plays that kept them in the game.
A trey by junior guard Myreon Jones at the 4:58 mark kept Penn State in the hunt, down by only six, 76-61.
The last two free throws, by junior guard Myreon Jones, pulled the Nittany Lions within five points, 70-65. Only one of the next four Penn State shots, a Seth Lundy triple, found the bottom of the net as Iowa finished the game with a couple of free throws and a layup for the 74-68 final.
The Nittany Lions held a five-point lead at the break, 41-36, and senior forward John Harrar extended it to seven with two quick free throws to start the second period. Iowa’s Joe Weiskamp scored eight-straight points in the first 2:04 to pull the Hawkeyes within one, 43-42. Senior guard Jamari Wheeler countered with a pair of 3-pointers to put the Nittany Lions back up 49-42 at the 17:10 mark before both teams succumbed to scoring droughts of four minutes.
Iowa made two field goals to take a 51-49 lead before junior guard Izaiah Brockington, who shared the team scoring lead with Jones, hit a jumper to tie the game at 51. Hawkeye Patrick McCaffery and Jones traded 3-pointers for a deadlock at 54 near the 12-minute mark.
Iowa extended its lead to 11 at 67-56 with five minutes remaining but a 9-3 Penn State run cut the deficit to five with just over a minute to play in the contest.
Jones and Brockington led the Nittany Lions with 11 points. Brockington had the high rebound total with seven while Harrar had six. Senior forward Luka Garza led all scorers with 23 points and he and Wieskamp had a game-high tying 11 rebounds. Garza became Iowa’s all-time leading scorer in the second half of Sunday’s matchup.
Wieskamp and Luka Garza combined for 22 of the Hawkeyes’ 38 second-half points with 11 each.
The Hawkeyes came out of the gate firing, as CJ Fredrick knocked down a pair of triples in the game’s first five minutes and added another bucket to give Iowa an early 13-4 advantage. Trailing by 13 with 13:40 to play, the Nittany Lions hit their next six shots to pull within one after a Myles Dread 3-pointer.
Iowa pushed its lead back to four, but a 5-0 run led by a Trent Buttrick triple gave Penn State its first lead of the game at 26-25. With Iowa leading 33-30, Dread propelled a Nittany Lion 9-0 scoring run with a pair of triples and a free throw to give Penn State its largest lead of the half at 39-33.
Penn State held its own with 20 points in the paint to Iowa’s 28 and the Nittany Lion bench contributed 20 points to the effort compared to only 12 for Iowa.