Penn State Basketball: another 2nd half lead, another cold stretch, loss to Iowa

Feb 21, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (left) and Penn State Nittany Lions forward John Harrar (21) battle for a loose ball during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (left) and Penn State Nittany Lions forward John Harrar (21) battle for a loose ball during the first half at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /
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Penn State Basketball suffered a familiar fate, blowing a second-half lead in a 74-68 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes Sunday night

Despite a second half lead (again), a dismal shooting stretch (also again) helped No. 11 ranked Iowa squeak out a 74-68 win over Penn State Basketball.

First Half Recap

  • Iowa started off en fuego, hitting four three pointers leading to a 19-8 early lead.
  • The Nittany Lions‘ Seth Lundy played about 4 seconds; he turned it over on a wide open fast break, committed two fouls on defense, and sat the rest of the half.  As much as former head coach Pat Chambers got out of Lundy, Jim Ferry is the exact opposite.  The benching has clearly affected him on both ends.
  • An Abdou Tsimbila sighting! He was a HUGE difference maker in his five or so minutes.  He got a bucket, went one for two from the free throw line, got two boards and an assist.  He played great D on Garza, giving up only one bucket and then committing his second foul, a silly one 90 feet from the basket.  Great to see Tsimbila getting real, meaningful run.
  • If I told you Lundy was scoreless, Harrar had two points, Wheeler missed two threes and had two points, and Myreon Jones finished 1-for-6, and the Lions’ only made basket was an end of half goaltending that had no chance of going in, you’d say PSU down at least eight points, right?  Wrong.  Penn State led by as many as six and held a 41-36 lead at the half.
  • Dread went 3-4 from beyond.  Sessoms didn’t have a turnover and added 6.  But the biggest suprise? Trent BUCKETTRICKS!  He was 2-2 from beyond, finishing with 8 points in the half.  He also 3 rebounds and 2 steals.  MVP of the first half for sure.
  • Garza watch: is it possible to score 12 points and get five rebounds and feel like it was a “quiet” half?  PSU’s combination of Harrar, Buttrick, Tsimbila and even some Dread and Brockington “held” him to 5-11 shooting and did force one turnover.  I’ll sign up for that half again out of Luka in a heartbeat.
  • Until fouling late in the half with fouls to give, fouls were 9 charged to the Lions and just 4 to the Hawkeyes.  The first Iowa foul was called with 6:15 left in the first half.  But that didn’t prevent volcanic Fran McCaffrey from freaking out and getting a T.  When Iowa was called for their fourth foul.  And the Lions had been called for 8.  Take a chill pill Francis.
  • Myreon Jones went 1-2 from the free throw line.  I remember when he was automatic from the stripe.  I have the sneaking suspicion this could cost us at the end of a game.
  • First lead at the half in 8 games.  Pretty impressive given we were down 11 early.

Onto the 2nd half!

The first four minutes proved this was just going continue to be an up-tempo game.

Both teams want to play that way, so they did.

Penn State Basketball ran the lead up to seven on two Harrar free throws. Two Weiskamp layups cut the lead to three, the second coming after Brockington just dropped an uncontested rebound out of bounds, which led to Harrar picking up his second foul on the wing, which led to PSU playing 30 seconds of great D but Iowa got the offensive rebound off their end of shot clock prayer 3.

One dropped rebound cost the Lions two points and a Harrar foul. Sigh.

Another missed layup from Myreon Jones allowed Weiskamp to score another in the paint to cut the lead to just one with 17:50 to go.

Fortunately, Jamari Wheeler made up for an early carry call by hitting back to back threes as the announcers were more focused on Garza closing in on the Iowa all-time scoring record.

Buttrick missed a wide open three which could have extended the lead further and Sessoms got hammered on a drive (no call, thanks Fran).  Another bucket from Weiskamp this time from 3 cut the lead to 49-45.  After a Buttrick turnover, Garza got two free throws headed into the first media timeout, 15:12 to go.

He made one, just tying the all-time record that was apparently the only reason the game was played today after airballing the second one.

Myreon then passed up a wide open three, which led to Lundy missing from 3 later in the same possession.

Backup Garza (Jack Nunge) cut the lead to one and another Sessoms drive with no whistle gave Iowa a chance to take the lead but a Weiskamp three rimmed out.  Sessoms had an awful live ball turnover trying to get it to Lundy after Myreon almost turned it over, leading to a Murray 3 from Iowa to take their first lead of the half, 51-49.

Teams traded buckets (Brockington jumper and a McCaffrey 3, Myreon Jones 3) to tie it up at 54-54 and a Toussiant drive off a Brockington missed led to two Iowa free throws coming out of the second media timeout, 11:50 to go.

Iowa missed both (wish OSU would have missed a freaking FT) but Dread rimmed a three.  Following a Hawkeye turnover, Myreon missed a tough, contested jumper.  Harrar committed his third foul but Toussaint turned it over right back.  The pace was slowing just a bit.  Buttrick missed another three as the Lions were in one of their patented second half bad shot stretches.  An insanely late block call on Buttrick put Iowa in the bonus but Garza missed the front end (again, he needed 1 more point for the record, in case you weren’t listening to the announcers).  Myreon rimmed another jumper (now 2-10 on the day).

Good defense forced an end of shot clock prayer but Wheeler missed a layup over Garza and Buttrick missed (and was probably fouled, no call) on the follow but the Lions forced another turnover.

Jones missed another 3 off a great Wheeler pass on the baseline and Garza got the layup FOR THE RECORD and also a 56-54 lead.  Wheeler missed a step back badly and the PSU shot clock violation would give Iowa the ball coming out of the third media timeout, 7:47 to go.

It’s important to point out here the Lions did not score one point (0-7 from the field, 0-2 from three) in that four minute stretch.

Harrar picked up his fourth on the floor covering Garza, and this was a very soft call and Iowa stretched their leada to four.  It was reviewed for a hook and hold but determined just a common foul.  That’s called foreshadowing, folks.  Time for Myreon to show us something, right?  But he wasn’t even on the floor.

Sessoms missed a 3 and after a Tsimbila block, Iowa was forced to call timeout in-bounding the ball as our scoreless stretch has reached 5 minutes and 17 seconds.  Garza over Tsimbila gave Iowa their largest lead since the first half and Brockington followed it up with a rim rattling dunk…except he got rejected by the front of the rim.  Ouch.

Dread redirected the following Garza shot and Brockington got to the line on the drive on the other end, making both, our first points in over 6 minutes (still no field goals though).  A Weiskamp three rimmed and Tsimbila was called for a very tough foul on the rebound battling with Garza, his fourth.  Lotta tough calls going against the Lions in Carver Hawkeye.  This one was worse as the monitor review determined Abdou “hook and held” Garza (gimme a break, freaking player of the year vs a true Freshman, sure…), resuling in a Flagrant 1.  Garza made both and got a layup for the four point play, Iowa by 8.   Sessoms missed a floater, Bohannan hit a three over Tsimbila and just like that, Iowa 67 – Penn State 56, timeout Jim Ferry.

Harrar checked in (probably too late Ferry) and drove on Garza, who instantly complained after being called for the foul.  That was the *checks notes* first foul on the star Iowa Center.  Right. Harrar made both and strong D on Garza forced a Hawkeye turnover.

Shooting 4-of-20 from the field this half, Myreon FINALLY hit a 3 to cut the lead to six. Penn State’s first field goal in almost eight minutes.

Man the Lions were due.

PSU almost forced another turnover, saved by Iowa’s second timeout of the half.  67-61 Iowa, 4:22 left.

PSU played perfect D forcing a three point prayer at the shot clock  buzzer…it went in.

You guys know the drill.

Happens every game.

Freaking annoying.

Dread missed the responding three and that felt like that was about it. Bohannon missed a 3 and Jones drove on Garza, no foul call cause of course.  Harrar was fouled on the rebound and made both (impressive consideirng it was a 1-1) to cut the lead back to seven.  If that Fredrick prayer three didn’t go in, the Lions would have had some nice momentum. More great defense, especially by Buttrick and Dread doubling Garza, forced a shot clock violation on the Bohannon three that never drew iron.

Myreon Jones missed a three from the top of the key and Iowa began to work more clock.  Dread hit the floor to get a steal but the refs stopped the Lions fastbreak, calling a foul on Iowa.  That was Iowa’s 15th turnover.  Defensive effort was there all game.  Dread missed the front end (after only going 1 for 2 on the McCaffrey technical).  A wide open Fredrick 3 was missed but Garza got the board.   Lions forced another turnover but were unable to even attempt a shot on the two on one fastbreak, somehow.

Jones was fouled as the Lions were finally in the double bonus and made both, 70-65 Iowa with 1:20 to go.  PSU would have to force another turnover.  Could they pull one out like other teams have done to them all year?  Working the shot clock (and game clock), Iowa missed a three at the buzzer, ball out of bounds off Iowa.  So yes, we got the stop but Iowa burned the 31 seconds.

Two Iowa defenders hit the ground, Myreon Jones wide open at the top of the key…and airballed it.  Can’t make this stuff up.  That miss moved Jones to 3-15 from the field, 2-8 from three.  That’s just not good enough.

Lions forced the last Hawkeye timeout with more strong defense in the backcourt.

Can’t stress enough how great the Lions played defensively, foul trouble and all.

Iowa simply does not get held to 70 points in 39 minutes and 30 seconds at home very often.

But, it was all for naught, again, like usual.

Out of the timeout, Penn State forced a jump ball but instead a foul was called on Myreon Jones.  As good as our defense was is as one-sided as the officiating was tonight in Iowa City.

Iowa made one free throw, Sessoms bricked a three and Iowa got the breakaway layup to push the lead to 8.  Seth Lundy (ha, remember him?) hit a three to cut the lead to 5 with 6.7 seconds left.  Iowa mad eone of two, Dread missed a deep three and that was that.  Iowa 74 – Penn State 68.