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December 2, 2017
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Penn State gutted it out down the stretch and fended off an Iowa rally for a 77-73 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in its 2017-18 Big Ten season opener. Four Nittany Lions scored in double figures, with leading scorer Lamar Stevens adding two free throws with four seconds left for a total of 22 points.
It was the first win for Penn State at Iowa City since 2001 and the Nittany Lions’ first road victory in a conference opener since 2010-11.
“We learned a lot of valuable lessons from the N.C. State game and we’re benefitting from our experiences,” said Penn State coach Patrick Chambers. “I was really inspired by this team. We’re still young, but I was inspired by how approached Friday’s practice and today’s game. It shows me a lot. The guys really stepped up at critical times, we were more consistent and we definitely matured as a team today.”
Penn State never trailed in the contest and in the second half, kept the Hawkeyes without a basket for three-and-a-half minutes to build an eight-point lead with 4:43 remaining. Two quick scores, however, by Hawkeyes Jordan Bohannan and Isaiah Moss in the next 35 seconds, sliced the Nittany Lion lead to three, 67-64.
After a Nittany Lion offensive possession, the Hawkeyes moved the ball quickly up court, but Josh Reaves grabbed a Hawkeye turnover to give the ball back to Penn State. Iowa would send Stevens to the line for two shots with 2:40 remaining.
The next minute saw the teams trade possessions without any points. Iowa would pull within two of Penn State, 69-67, with 71 seconds left to play following a Tyler Cook dunk and made free throw after Shep Garner was whistled for his fourth foul. Watkins and Reaves were already playing with four fouls and Stevens and Pierce had picked up their third fouls early in the second half.
A Stevens jumper and dunk by redshirt-sophomore forward Mike Watkins would counter two more baskets by Hawkeye Tyler Cook to keep Penn State ahead. Tony Carr added two free throws for the Nittany Lions with 9.2 seconds left. A final dunk by Iowa and quick personal foul put Stevens back on the line where he sank both free throws with four seconds remaining for the 77-73 final.
Stevens, a sophomore forward, had his eighth career 20-plus point game, which included a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line, and added five rebounds and two blocks to his stat line. Redshirt-sophomore Mike Watkins split his point total nearly evenly with 10 of his 19 points coming in the first half. He also registered a team-high seven boards and three blocks.
Carr finished the game with 16 points, 13 coming in the second half, and nine assists. Garner hit four triples for his 12 points.
Cook had a game-high 23 points, including nine free throws, and lead both squads with 12 rebounds. Iowa teammates Isaiah Moss and Cordell Pemsel finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Iowa shot 57.7 percent for the game from the field but finished with only four three-pointers (4-12) to Penn State’s 12, the most three-pointers for the Nittany Lions since a December 2016 win vs. St. John’s. The Hawkeyes made 21 trips to the line off 22 Penn State personal fouls, but made only 13.
Penn State’s defensive efforts forced 18 Iowa turnovers and converted those errors into 22 points.
The Nittany Lions started strong again to take a 14-4 lead on 7-8 shooting within the first three minutes of the game and took a 39-34 lead into halftime.
Tickets are available for the Penn State Big Ten opener on Monday, December 4, and all remaining home games. Visit gopsusports.com/tickets/m-baskbl-tickets.html for more information.
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