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Penn State Hoops Defeats Iowa 89-79 For Its Third-Straight Win

Penn State men’s basketball (12-11, 6-6 Big Ten) knocked off Iowa (13-10, 5-7 Big Ten) 89-79 in a back-and-forth Big Ten battle Thursday night.

Ace Baldwin Jr. led the way with a strong second-half performance as the Nittany Lions’ leader and finished with 22 points and six assists. Three other Nittany Lions finished with double digits in the victory.

How It Happened

Before the game, Kanye Clary and Puff Johnson were listed as questionable on the Big Ten availability report. Clary went through pregame warmups, while Johnson didn’t participate. Head coach Mike Rhoades ended up rolling out the same lineup that earned back-to-back road victories last week.

Iowa won the tip but couldn’t convert on its opening possession. Down the floor, D’Marco Dunn sank a three to get the scoring started for the Nittany Lions. Dunn followed it up with his second basket on the next possession, for a hot start for Penn State. The Hawkeyes then responded with three points of their own.

The scoring continued for both teams in the opening minutes of play. Ben Krikke used his body and strength over Nick Kern Jr. to earn an and-one to give Iowa an early 8-7 lead. Zach Hicks responded for the Nittany Lions by drilling a three from the wing. After his two-game absence, Clary checked into the game after the under-sixteen media timeout.

On the first possession out of the break, Baldwin turned it over on a pass looking for a cutting Dunn. Jameel Brown missed his first shot of the game after checking in, following a great performance against Indiana. Baldwin committed another turnover which led to another easy Iowa bucket, to extend its lead to 17-10.

After a quick timeout from Rhoades, Brown hit on his second three-attempt of the game for his first points. The sophomore followed it up with another triple to cut the deficit to three points at the 12:30 mark in the first half. A few moments later, Baldwin cut through the Hawkeyes defense to draw a foul, connecting on both of his free throws at the line.

Brown continued to stay hot from behind the arc, sinking his third three to tie it back up at 21 points. Wahab kept the momentum rolling with a shot off the glass on the next trip down the court. Using his vision, Baldwin then found a cutting Hicks, who ended up being fouled on his layup attempt. Hicks made both at the charity stripe.

Demetrius Lilley brought in his first bucket of the evening on an easy two points to extend the Nittany Lions lead. At the under-eight media timeout, Penn State led 27-21 over Iowa. Out of the stoppage of play, Kern went to the line, converting on both of his attempts. Penn State then put on the full-court pressure, causing an Iowa airball on its offensive possession.

Both teams lost their shooting touch in the following few minutes, with neither squad adding to the scoreboard. At the under-four, Penn State held an eight-point lead over the visitors. The Nittany Lions’ defense continued to put on the pressure, which led to a wide-open layup for Clary after a turnover. Tony Perkins responded for the Hawkeyes with a triple.

After a few mental mistakes from the Nittany Lions, Iowa cut into the Penn State lead with easy transition buckets. Clary stopped the bleeding with a triple, his first since being injured. The defense followed it up by forcing a shot-clock violation. However, the blue and white couldn’t add to the lead after committing an over-and-back turnover at halfcourt.

Clary decided to push the initiative in transition with only 25 seconds left in the half, drawing the foul and hitting one of two at the line. Penn State held the line on its final defensive possession and went into the halftime break up by eight.

Penn State started with the ball out of halftime, but the Nittany Lions could not get a shot to go on its two attempts. The Hawkeyes earned two points at the foul line on their first possession. Wahab got the scoring going with his signature hook shot and on the next trip down the floor for Iowa, the visitors turned it over to give the blue and white the momentum.

Lilley came off the bench and cleaned up the glass to give the Nittany Lions a 46-40 lead at the 16:06 mark. After a few stoppages of play, Perkins slammed home a dunk to cut the deficit to two points. The Hawkeyes tied it up at 46 on the next possession, bringing the Bryce Jordan Crowd to silence. Baldwin then stopped the 6-0 run with two free throws.

Owen Freeman grabbed the lead for Iowa with an and-one, with the foul going against Lilley. Dunn drilled a three from the top of the arc, as the game began a back-and-forth affair. Dunn kept the scoring flowing with a mid-range pull-up jumper on the Nittany Lions’ next shot. Patrick McCaffery answered with two points of his own for the Hawkeyes.

With the ballgame tied at 53, Clary made one of two at the line before Krikke grabbed the lead back for Iowa. The Hawkeyes extended their lead with a wide-open three as Clary could not get back on defense. After another and-one from the visitors, Rhaodes had seen enough and called timeout trailing by six points.

Dunn went to the line on the Nittany Lions’ next possession and drilled both of his free throw attempts. Iowa continued to pick apart Penn State’s defense, as Freeman slammed home a dunk over Wahab. Hicks buried a three which brought the crowd to its feet as the Nittany Lions began its run. Baldwin fed off the energy to drill a three in front of his bench to give his team the lead back at 64-63.

Fran McCaffery called a timeout with 7:01 left in the game in an attempt to stop the momentum. Directly out of the timeout, Penn State forced an Iowa turnover with its press. Hicks made the Hawkeyes pay with a three in a defender’s face to bring the Nittany Lions lead to 67-63. Iowa again responded with another and-one, this time with the foul against Lilley.

Wahab immediately checked into the game for Rhoades and went to the line to shoot two free throws. The Georgetown transfer drilled both his shots to extend the lead to three. Perkins called bank on the other end, making the shot over Wahab.

Kern traded buckets with the Hawkeyes right before the under-four timeout. Iowa tied it up at 71 apiece with a deep three-pointer. However, Baldwin had the answer again from behind the arc. Wahab went back to work on offense, swishing home another hook shot. Leading by three and with the shot clock counting down, Baldwin came up with a steal from Krikke.

Iowa turned it over again on its very next possession, and like clockwork, Baldwin made the Hawkeyes pay. The Nittany Lions’ leader hit an acrobatic and-one on the other end of the floor. Baldwin converted at the line and Penn State led 81-73. Baldwin all but sealed the deal with a three on the next possession as the senior completely took over the game late.

Iowa began the foul game, sending Hicks to the line where he made both his shots. Baldwin was next to go to the line, and as his predecessor, he hit both his shots as well. The Hawkeyes continued to fight with 30 seconds remaining, hitting a jumper to cut the deficit to nine. Clary made it a double-digit lead with a free throw of his own as the Nittany Lions sealed the victory 89-79.

Takeaways

  • This version of Penn State hoops looks completely different than the one that started the season. At the beginning of the season, this team looked like it had little fight in them, but over the past week and a half, it has been a different Nittany Lion team.
  • Baldwin is a fearless leader. Baldwin completely took over the game late in the second half to will the Nittany Lions to victory. The VCU transfer has been everything Penn State fans could have hoped for in the past three games.
  • Rhoades has done a great job with this year’s team. Nobody had high expectations going into the season but through the beginning of February, there is a lot of optimism around this program.

What’s Next?

Penn State will be back on the court at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 11, on the road against Northwestern. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

CJ Gill

CJ is a sophomore from McVeytown, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism and an associate editor at Onward State. He has the great privilege of living in central Pennsylvania...Which isn't so great. You can send all disagreements to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CJGill14.

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