The Nittany Lions (14-17, 6-12 B1G) wrapped up their 2016-17 regular season slate on the road in Iowa City on Sunday, dropping a 90-79 result to Iowa (18-13, 10-8 B1G). The Hawkeyes, who were trailing 25-24 following Shep Garner’s lone field goal of the first half, then ripped off a 14-0 run over a five-minute stretch and never looked back, as the margin never dropped below eight points for the remainder of the game.
How It Happened
Pat Chambers’ squad started well on the road, battering Iowa’s big men by snatching four offensive rebounds in the first five minutes of action to take a 15-13 lead. The Hawkeyes, who came into the matchup ranked last in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding, allowed 15 offensive boards to the Blue and White on the day.
Mike Watkins led the charge for Penn State early, tallying seven points by shooting 3-for-3 from the field, while adding four rebounds to his stat line by the second media timeout. Big Ten leading scorer Peter Jok picked up two fouls in the opening five minutes for the Hawkeyes, forcing the star to sit for all but one more minute in the period. However, Watkins picked up his second personal foul and joined Jok by sitting much more than usual throughout the opening period.
With Watkins on the bench, Iowa stretched the lead out to 47-36 heading into the locker room behind a 14-0 run late in the half and a combined 19 points and 13 rebounds by forwards Nicholas Baer and Tyler Cook. Considering Garner, Lamar Stevens, and Tony Carr combined to shoot 3-for-21 in the first twenty minutes for Penn State, Pat Chambers picked up a technical foul, and Iowa out-shot them 50 percent to 39 percent, the Nittany Lions were lucky to be in the game at the intermission.
Despite scoring just two points in the first half, Jok came out of the half on fire for head coach Fran McCaffery’s team. The senior made six of his first seven shots coming out of the break, with his 16 quick points allowing Iowa to extend their lead to 70-49. Cook was whistled for a flagrant-one foul for an accidental elbow to the jaw of Payton Banks in the midst of Jok’s scoring spree, but Watkins picked up yet another foul as Penn State was unable to capitalize on the potential momentum shift.
In addition to Jok’s hot streak, the Hawkeyes shot 63.6 percent from three-point range in the second half, and 57.1 percent for the game. Meanwhile, the only thing catching fire for the Nittany Lions was Tony Carr’s temper, picking up a technical foul following his reaction to a call against him with under eight minutes to go.
Josh Reaves, one of the lone bright spots all day for Penn State, led the team on a 12-0 run to close the gap to 81-66 late in the game, but Iowa’s stellar shooting never let up.
Reaves and Watkins battled for the Nittany Lions all day, scoring 25 points and 17 points, respectively. The duo made 18 of their 20 shots, as Reaves (below) and Watkins (12 rebounds, 100 percent FG) each put together impressive stat lines. Carr, Garner, Stevens and Payton Banks combined to shoot just 22.7 percent (10-for-44) from the field, finishing with 30 total points between the four.
Iowa had five different players finish in double figures, led by Jok with 21 points. Cook (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Nicholas Baer (career-high 20 points, 10 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the Hawkeyes.
Player Of The Game
Josh Reaves | Sophomore | Guard
Typically considered a defensive specialist, Reaves put up an eye-popping stat line in the loss. His career-high 25-point day on 10-for-12 shooting was joined by five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block for the Oak Hill Academy alum.
The Nittany Lions have the 13-seed in this week’s B1G Tournament, setting up a 4:30 p.m. matchup on Wednesday with either Indiana, Nebraska, or Ohio State depending on the result of the Cornhuskers’ matchup with Michigan tonight at 8 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2, and will also be available via WatchESPN and the ESPN mobile app.