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This Is All Too Familiar: Penn State Falls To Iowa In Overtime, 81-77

Here’s a familiar tale: the Penn State basketball team relinquished a second half lead en route to a single-digit defeat. It’s happened 10 previous times in Big Ten play, and it happened again Saturday evening, as Penn State fell to Iowa on Coaches vs. Cancer Day 81-77 in overtime.

Despite 19 points from D.J. Newbill, 17 from Shep Garner, and two other double-digit scorers, the Nittany Lions allowed a 9-0 run to close out the first half before a quick start out of the locker rooms evened the score. Back and forth throughout the second half, the Hawkeyes benefitted from the bonus just six minutes into the latter period, as well as 25-27 free throw shooting.

It’s four straight wins for Iowa, and five straight losses for Penn State, as Pat Chambers’ team’s descent to the cellar of the Big Ten standings continued.

“It’s probably a mindset thing at this point,” said Chambers following the loss.

How It Happened

Chambers mentioned earlier in the week that in an effort to spark his team’s recently languid play, he may switch up the starting lineup. He did, as Julian Moore earned his first career start, and promptly scored Penn State’s first points.

Chambers audibly urged his team to quicken the pace early in the game. It was a frantic and sloppy start, but it worked, as a Garner three and Geno Thorpe layup put the Lions ahead 17-9 six minutes in. Garner hit two more threes on ensuing possessions, and the Lions started 4-4 from behind the arc, but would miss their final seven attempt of the half. A 20-5 run gave Penn State a 23-11 lead nine minutes into the game. Ross Travis, far from a good shooter, enjoyed a formidable start from the floor as well, and added five early points.

“I thought Ross Travis had one of his best games,” said Chambers. “I thought other guys stepped up today.”

But Iowa, which entered the game tied for fourth in the Big Ten, responded with a 6-0 run, forcing a visibly frustrated Chambers to call a timeout of his own.

Following a season-low three points against Northwestern, D.J. Newbill didn’t collect his first basket until late in the first half, a score that put the Lions back ahead by five, 27-22. Newbill finished the half with only two points, a cumulative total of only five points in his previous three halves up to that point. He’d add 17 points in the second half and overtime.

Iowa ended the half on a 9-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Josh Oglesby to give the Hawkeyes’ their first lead since the first five minutes, a 31-29 advantage it took into the half.

Newbill heated up to begin the second half, scoring eight points in the first three minutes. That spurt, and a Thope three-pointer, gave Penn State the lead back early following the intermission. But Penn State picked up six fouls within the half’s first six minutes, allowing Iowa to enter the bonus early. It would prove painful, as the Hawkeyes took an 11/11 start from the foul line to regain a 47-46 lead with 12:25 to play.

Iowa soon opened the floodgates, using a combination of free throws, three-pointers, and fast break points to take a 58-51 lead with 8:58 to play. Then a series of questionable calls came against the Nittany Lions, including one on Thorpe for seemingly grabbing a rebound.

A Garner and-one temporarily tied the game at 61-61, and brought the crowd to its feet after a lengthy period of stale play. And a Brandon Taylor three, his first of the game, gave the Lions a two-point lead with just over three minutes to play.

Then, after a lightning-quick sequence of possessions, Newbill was fouled, down two, with 18 seconds to play. He hit both foul shots, and Iowa couldn’t score on its final chance as regulation ended in a tie.

Iowa hit two three-pointers to open the overtime period. But a Newbill runner off the glass with just over a minute to play, followed by a pair of free throws, tied the game. Iowa then hit one foul shot, Newbill threw away the inbounds pass, and Iowa added two more foul shots. A 1-2 trip from the line from Jordan Dickerson narrowed the deficit to two points.

“I passed it to the other team,” said Newbill bluntly.

But Iowa hit two more foul shots to put the game out of reach, as Penn State lost another heart-breaker at the buzzer.

Player of the Game

After a stretch of less than impressive performances, Garner’s game Saturday evening was reminiscent of the potential he demonstrated early in the season. The freshman point guard started Penn State’s scoring early in the first half, with three quick three-pointers. He finished with 17 points.

He also did an admirable job playing alongside fellow underclassmen guard Thorpe, who finished with 14 points.

“We’re playing more and more together,” said Garner. “We’re just used to playing with each other now.”

The lone blemish: Garner was called for a charge with 2:26 remaining on a one-on-three fast break with the game tied. The costly turnover led to an alley-oop on the other end that put Iowa back in the lead.

Stats of the Game

  • Penn State jumped out to a blistering start from behind the three-point line. It hit its first four three-pointers, including three from Shep Garner in the game’s first several minutes. But the Lions missed their final seven attempts of the first half, including a Brandon Taylor effort at the buzzer, a stat that ultimately contributed to Iowa taking the halftime lead.
  • Jordan Dickerson recorded four first half blocks, enough to move him to ninth on Penn State’s all-time leading blocks list.
  • Newbill entered the game needing 25 points to reach 2,000 career tallies.
  • As Fight on State’s Mark Brennan pointed out, Ross Travis, a notably awful foul shooter, made more than one foul shot in a single game for the first time this year.

What’s Next

Penn State hosts Ohio State on Wednesday at six p.m. It will be senior night, Newbill’s last home game as a Nittany Lion. The previous time the two teams met, three weeks ago in Columbus, things didn’t go too well.

“I hope everybody comes out for senior night to send off D.J. and Ross,” said Chambers. “They’ve been real ambassadors for this program.”

Photo: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports

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About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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