Penn State Basketball overcame a strong second half push from Iowa to improve to 11-3 on the season.
Penn State Basketball got the new year started off on the right foot with an 83-79 win over Iowa on Sunday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Seth Lundy’s only turnover of the evening occurred on Penn State’s first possession, which led to a slim 8-6 Iowa lead going into the first TV timeout. Andrew Funk ( 20 points, 5-8 in 3-point shooting) drained his first three of the evening following the timeout and this sparked a Penn State offensive explosion. They went into the locker room with a commanding 18 point lead at 44-26.
The second half was a completely different story. Iowa opened the second stanza with a quick 5-0 run and cut the halftime lead to nine points with a Kris Murray 3-point shot at the 13:50 mark. Murray led all scorers 32 points on 12-20 shooting from the field
Penn State immediately answered with what is becoming a familar phrase on the season, another Funk 3-pointer. The Nittany Lions maintained a double digit lead all the way to the 3:41 mark, when Connor McCaffery, one of two sons of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery that play on the team, hit a three, making it 69-76.
Having watched Penn State basketball since the Tom Hovasse and Ed Fogell days, I’ve seen Penn State put forth many a great effort for the first 36 or 37 minutes but collaspe and lose games in truly heart-breaking fashion.
However, this team is different.
Sure, they let it get incredibly close. Iowa pulled to within two points with 53 seconds remaining in regulation. But Penn State’s “Triple-Double Waiting to Happen”, Jalen Pickett, hit both free throws to take the lead back to four. Pickett paced all PSU players with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
Kris Murray brought the game back to a single bucket affair with a layup at the 16 second mark. A Penn State missed free throw gave Iowa the ball back with the chance to tie or take the lead.
In truly ironic fashion, Seth Lundy commited a misdemeanor theft when he picked Tony Perkins pocket with 5 ticks left on the clock. He opened the game by committing a turnover and sealed the win by getting a turnover. Just as important as the steal, however, was his calmly sinking both foul shots, extending the lead back to 4 points with 3 seconds left.
Lundy finished with 10 points, 5 boards and 2 steals. Camren Wynter chipped in 14. The bench scoring consisted of Myles Dread’s 7 points and Evan Mahaffey’s 6.
Penn State’s record is now 11-3, 2-1 in the Big Ten. Iowa falls to 8-6, 0-3 in the Big Ten. Up next for the Nittany Lions take to the road to face the Michigan Wolverines, fresh off of a crushing 81-46 win over Maryland. The game is on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. on the BTN.