It was a late second-half stumble that cost Iowa in a loss at No. 18 Michigan State on Saturday.
On Wednesday, the Hawkeyes never got out of the blocks.
Iowa never led Wednesday as Penn State (7-11, 2-5 Big Ten Conference) snapped a five-game losing skid with a 82-69 win over the Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The loss was the second straight for Iowa (13-6, 3-4), the second in a row at home and dropped the Hawkeyes below .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
“I thought they came out and played a great game, you couldn’t tell that team was on a five-game losing streak,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “They came out inspired, they came out with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and they took it at us.”
Penn State entered the game tied with Illinois at the bottom of the Big Ten standings.
The Nittany Lions looked little like a last place team on Wednesday.
Penn State made 12 of its first 16 field-goal attempts and shot 59 percent in the opening two quarters while building a 46-38 halftime lead.
All five Penn State starters scored in double figures, led by Brianna Banks and Lindsey Spann with 16 points each as the Nittany Lions won their fifth conference game in the last two seasons.
“We just came out and played lackluster defense and that concerns me,” Bluder said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and keep working on it and get ready for Purdue on Sunday.”
Despite the hot first-half shooting by Penn State, Iowa trailed just 46-40 when Chase Coley hit a jumper 14 seconds into the third quarter.
Penn State led 57-49 after Megan Gustafson scored in the paint with 4:15 left in the quarter, but Penn State ended the third quarter on an 11-0 run that spanned the final 3:53.
“I feel like we have to start playing with more emotion on the court,” Coley said. “All of us can get down sometimes and I feel like we have to make sure we keep up our energy.”
Penn State led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter before a late Iowa rally.
The Hawkeyes got as close as 75-69 on a Tania Davis 18-foot jumper with 56 seconds to play but Iowa missed its final five shots as Penn State scored the games’ final seven points.
Coley led Iowa with 16 points and Disterhoft added 13 points and seven rebounds. The Hawkeyes shot just 35 percent from the field, including 4-of-25 from 3-point range.
Iowa was 1-of-13 from 3-point range in the second half, but it was the defense that cost the Hawkeyes the most on Wednesday.
Penn State had 14 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Iowa by 14.
The Nittany Lions shot 49 percent for the game and made 21-of-24 free throws. Iowa allowed 80 points or more for the second straight game and fifth time this season.
“Collectively we need to play better defense,” Disterhoft said. “We need to be able to stop a drive and be in proper help side. It’s definitely not one area it is collectively we need to improve on defense.”
Iowa returns to action on Sunday at Purdue (14-4, 5-2), which is in the middle of its own two-game losing skid.
“We have to take these losses to heart now,” Coley said. “We really have to start focusing and saying, 'OK we lost that one but you don’t want to play us next because we are hungry for a win right now.' ”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.