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Game Report: No. 21 Penn State Rallies Past Hawkeyes

January 4, 2020

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

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Iowa basketball continued showing admirable fight in the face of pressure Saturday afternoon. In the end, it was Penn State’s heart of the lion that prevailed, however.

Luka Garza (34 points, 12 rebounds) continued his Batman routine in the 89-86 setback at Philadelphia’s famed Palestra. Joe Wieskamp added 23 points and 10 boards for 23rd-ranked Iowa (10-4 overall, 1-2 Big Ten). Turnovers and poor foul shooting down the stretch did it in, though.

St. Bonaventure transfer Izaiah Brockington came off the bench to lead Penn State with 23 points. Nittany Lion seniors Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins battled foul trouble most of the game. They came into Saturday’s action averaging 27.6 points and 16.6 rebounds, but were held to 20 and eight. Watkins fouled out.

“(Brockington) was tremendous. That’s what he does. When he got going in that stretch, we were scoring but we weren’t getting back (on defense) to wall him off,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

The Hawkeyes committed 15 turnovers to Penn State’s eight and were outscored 20-7 on those giveaways. The Nittany Lions held a 46-8 advantage in bench points.

An already injury-plagued Hawkeye squad lost starting guard C.J. Fredrick (ankle) in the first half. Backup big man Ryan Kriener (eight points) left with a knee injury in the second half but was able to return. Bakari Evelyn and Cordell Pemsl (six rebounds) were held scoreless in a combined 24 minutes off the Iowa bench.

The back-and-forth contest featured 24 lead changes and 10 ties. Neither team led by more than eight points.

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The Lions (11-3, 1-2) roared to a 35-27 lead with 3:48 left in the first half courtesy of an 11-1 run. Iowa responded with an 11-4 spurt to cut its deficit to 39-38 at the intermission.

Penn State regained momentum out of the break, grabbing a 57-53 advantage with 13:56 remaining in regulation. Garza then stepped forward like he has all season.

The junior from Washington, D.C. drained a trey, dropped in a layup and then slammed one home, putting the Hawkeyes ahead 63-59 with 11:36 on the clock. Connor McCaffery assisted on all three baskets.

The visitors led from there until a deep Curtis Jones’ triple put Penn State ahead 77-76 with 3:03 left in the game. A Joe Toussaint jumper on the next possession put Iowa up one, but Stevens connected in the paint on the other end of the court.

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Garza made one of two free throws to tie it up, but an alley-oop slam by Watkins, who then blocked McCaffery on the other end was followed by a Stevens lay-in. The Lions led 83-79 with :41 left.

A pair of Toussaint foul shots made it 83-81 but then Myles Dread knocked down six in a row from the line to seal the deal. Toussaint hit a three at the buzzer.

The Hawkeyes shot just 13 of 20 from the foul line. Garza made only 7 of 14, missing three of four attempts in the game’s final three minutes.

The temperature in The Palestra was hot. Player sweat created slick spots on the court that caused players to slip throughout the game.

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“I thought we did a lot of good things today,” Fran McCaffery said. “I thought we lost to a really good team. We did some things that I would say are uncharacteristic. We fought pretty hard.”

TIP-INS

-Garza topped 30 points for the third time this season. He recorded his team-leading eighth double-double of the year. It was Wieskamp’s first of the season.

-Wieskamp tied a season high in three-pointers, making five of Iowa’s 11 three-pointers. It marked the sixth time this season and fourth time in five games the Hawkeyes made 10 or more in a game.

-Toussaint netted 16 of his career-high 18 points in the second half.

-Iowa lost for the first time in five games. Its last setback came Dec. 6 at Michigan.

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