Heading into Thursday night’s contest with the Iowa Hawkeyes, there were just 7 regular season games left for Penn State to avoid their first winless Big 10 season, and the first by any school since the 1999-2000 Northwestern Wildcats went o-16. The Hawkeyes presented the best remaining chance for a win. The Lions were in position to do just that with under a minute to play, trailing 70-68.
Ross Travis forced a turnover, leading to a 3 on 2 break, with Jermaine Marshall finding D.J. Newbill for an open 3. Newbill had hit 3 of 4 three point attempts, but this one went long. Brandon Taylor was able to grab the rebound, but could not avoid a held ball that gave Iowa possession. The Lions would foul on the ensuing play, sending Aaron White to the line. He missed the front end of the 1 and 1, giving PSU life. Marshall drove to the basket, looking for a foul call that would not come. PSU would draw within 2 again, with just 4 seconds left, and after Roy Devyn Marble made 1 of 2 free throws, Marshall would drive the floor, before Iowa was able to foul him. Marshall made the first, and with 1.5 seconds left, was left having to miss the second to give the Lions any hope. Ironically, PSU’s best free throw shooter who had missed 4 of his previous attempts on the night, ended up draining the shot, effectively ending all hope for the W.
Iowa got out to a 17-7 lead, but PSU would respond with a 16-0 run, fueled in large part by Newbill, who was the best player on the floor for much of the evening. Following a Fran McCaffery timeout, the Hawkeyes responded with an 11-0 run of their own, giving then a lead they would ultimately take to the half. By most measures, the first 20 minutes were Penn State’s strongest of the season. They were 45% from the field, 40% from three, 7 assists, and just 2 turnovers. It was only a 24-10 advantage on the boards that had the Hawkeyes out in front. Newbill was dominant, with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
PSU would take the lead out of the intermission with 5 straight points, and the game remained close, until another 11-0 Iowa run opened up a 61-49 lead for the visitors, with just 10 minutes left in the game. Instead of folding, Chambers crew responded with a 10-1 run, igniting the crowd for what would be an exciting finish. PSU would not get closer than 2 points though, never getting a stop they needed on the defensive end, or the basket they needed at the other, leading up the exciting, if not disappointing finish.
Newbill finished with 26 points, and 8 rebounds, giving PSU a glimpse of what they can expect from him next season when he will return to his more natural shooting guard when Tim Frazier reassumes the point. Marshall added 14 points, and 10 assists, but 76% FT shooter will be certainly replay his 6 of 10 performance from the line. Sasa Borovnjak finished with 14 as well. Roy Devyn Marble lead the visitors with 22 points.
PSU begins their gauntlet of a final 6 games Sunday afternoon at Crisler Center against the 4th ranked Michigan Wolverines, who are certainly smarting after being run out of East Lansing by MSU on Tuesday. That game tips at noon, and can be seen on BTN.