Penn State men’s basketball fell to No. 16 Iowa 82-70 on Saturday afternoon despite a huge performance from D.J. Newbill.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Nittany Lions were riding the momentum from a comeback win against Indiana on Wedneday. The team looked to knock off Iowa, but in the end it was Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeye squad that got the job done.
The game started off on a poor note for Penn State, with senior guard Tim Frazier coughing up the ball early near the three point arc, leading to a quick score for Iowa.
The Nittany Lions struggled to move the ball around cleanly on offense and create any looks early on. Iowa capitalized off of the sloppy play to hit a pair of threes from guard Josh Oglesby and Wisconsin transfer Jarrod Uthoff. Penn State’s defense struggled to contain the numerous Hawkeye sharpshooters throughout the game.
A turning point for Penn State in the first half came after a Pat Chambers timeout with Jordan Dickerson checking into the game. He provided defensive support down low, allowing for Penn State to grab rebounds and give the ball to the hot handed Newbill. After a few jumpers and a spinning floater, Newbill was able to help make it a close game.
Despite Iowa moving the ball at will on the perimeter and down in the paint, Penn State was able to hang in during the first half. A turnaround jump shot from Ross Travis, paired with a beautiful finger roll from Frazier with 4.9 left on the clock, put the Nittany Lions up 33-31 at the intermission.
The second half opened up with Donovon Jack putting two on the board, only to be caught by a quick transition alley-oop from Iowa’s Aaron White. The two teams went back and forth for the first part of the half, but a 15-4 Hawkeye run gave Iowa a 58-48 lead with seven minutes remaining.
While Penn State tried to battle back, Iowa’s superior length and depth kept the Nittany Lions at bay. The Nittany Lions were able to cut the Hawkeye lead to 60-55 with 4:08 remaining, but Iowa outscored Penn State 22-15 to close out the game.
Newbill led all Nittany Lion scorers with 22 points, while also chipping in 6 rebounds and 2 assists. Frazier struggled, as he had 11 points, but went an abysmal 4-for-17 from the floor. He also had 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. Dickerson led the team in blocks with three. As a team, Penn State hit only three shots from beyond the arc. Four Hawkeye players scored at least 13 points, led by Melsahn Brooks, who scored 16.
“You know they’re gonna fight you and it will be physical,” McCaffery said after the game. “We hit a bunch of shots early, but got tougher on the glass and played through contact as the game went on. We really kept our attack mentality going throughout the entire game.”
Nittany Lion head coach Pat Chambers was not too pleased with his team’s shooting performance.
“That’s an elite level team if they’re making threes,” he said. “They’re strong and physical. Let’s give Gesell credit, he made the shots. That becomes a very difficult team to play when they’re shooting like that. We need to make at least seven threes per game. I’m really shocked at how we’re shooting the ball right now.”
Chambers also told reporters that his team was playing very fatigued.
“They’re mentally and physically tired,” he said. “Getting them refreshed is going to be very important. The game in Bloomington really wore our guys down. Here’s the problem: If we’re not making threes, we’re an easy team to guard. In reality, we had one guy with 22, and the rest in single digits.”
The Nittany Lions don’t play again until Thursday, February 20 when the team travels to Lincoln to take on Nebraska. The game tips off at 7 p.m.