It was apparent from the getgo that the Nittany Lions made good use of their week off since the debacle in Evanston, as they jumped out to a big lead courtesy of some hot shooting. At one point the team made seven straight shots on the way to a 23-12 lead, courtesy of three triples from Shep Garner, who had the game of his young career. Fran McCaffery did his homework, though, and Iowa's zone eventually caused Penn State enough trouble to get the Hawkeyes back into the game. Most of the Lions' 15 turnovers came in the first period, and combined with some awakened outside shooting Iowa was leading by halftime, 31-29.
Penn State has made a habit of getting buried by poor second half starts, but they came out of the break hot with back-to-back triples from Newbill and Garner. After that [WHISTLE] the teams battled [WHISTLE] back and forth for [WHISTLE] 20 minutes. Iowa took their [WHISTLE] biggest lead with 9:01 left in the half, but Penn State battled back yet again [WHISTLE] behind the rejuvenated Newbill, whose 17 second half points buoyed his team just enough to force overtime. The biggest two came at [WHISTLE] the foul line, where the senior in his second-last home game buried two clutch free throws to essentially force the extra period.
Jarrod Uthoff and Mike Gesell hit a pair of threes to open overtime, giving Iowa a lead they held for much of overtime. Newbill got his team back in it from inside the arc with Iowa switching to a man-to-man defense, but with Iowa in front by just one, well, it happened again. Newbill, god bless him, was too casual on an inbound pass and threw the ball to Aaron White. I struggle to think of a more cruel outcome for the guy (on Coaches vs. Cancer day, no less). Iowa made their free throws down the stretch, just as they did all game, and held on for the win. Paging Dr. Microcosm.
Four Factors Analysis
Iowa's ability to get to the line ultimately made the difference, but the number above is only half the story. The Hawkeyes, who shoot a respectable 73% on the year, made 25 of their 27 free throws. That's, uh, that's pretty unlucky. Penn State did enough otherwise to squeak out a win, aside from a few unforced turnovers.
Player of the Game - Shep Garner
Maybe it was due to the presence of some high school friends in the crowd, but young Shep gave us a glimpse of the future with 17 points on 5-11 shooting (4-8 from three). Easily the best performance of his young career, the Roman Catholic alum looked like a program cornerstone in his 32 minutes.
- Moral victories ahoy! - If tonight was a preview of next year's squad, the backcourt should be in good hands. Garner was excellent despite fouling out, Geno Thorpe did his usual dirty work en route to 14 points and seven boards, and Devin Foster even hit his first career three-pointer.
- The Annual Ross Travis Game - Such a shame it had to go to waste, but Travis finally put forth an effort worthy of a four-year contributor. It would have been nice to get 10 points and nine boards from Travis more often this season.
- Rhythm interrupted - This isn't an indictment on either team, but holy hell were there too many whistles tonight. As mentioned in the open, 43 fouls in 45 minutes wasn't indicative of the style of game being played. It was open (77 possessions) and well played for large stretches, and probably half of the calls were unnecessary.
Ohio State will be the opponent once again for Penn State's senior night this Wednesday, where Newbill, Travis, and Kevin Montminy will get one last hurrah in front of the home crowd and one last chance to score an upset in 2015. Hopefully there's a decent crowd to send them off. More on the Buckeyes later this week.