Luka Garza, Jordan Bohannon help Iowa close road win at Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Showing the perseverance that it takes to rule on the Big Ten Conference road, short-handed Iowa pocketed a hard-earned victory Wednesday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Hawkeyes rallied from an eight-point second-half deficit to slay Penn State, 89-82, at an atmosphere-less arena that’s given the program fits for years.
They had to muster some fight, playing again without leading scorer Tyler Cook — who sat out with a left ankle injury. And they got it from a variety of places.
Luka Garza (22 points, 12 rebounds) overcame a second-half technical foul to dominate the paint.
Ryan Kriener (15 points) stepped up to be a secondary inside force that Iowa needed.
Joe Wieskamp (10 points, all in the second half) rebounded from a forgettable start to record clutch buckets down the stretch.
And then there was the closer, Jordan Bohannon.
With Iowa ahead by one and 82 seconds left, Penn State’s Mike Watkins missed a pair of free throws after he was fouled on a missed dunk. Iowa's Connor McCaffery missed a 3-pointer, Wieskamp corralled the rebound, then … Bohannon buried a 25-footer from the top of the key with 36 seconds to go to push Iowa’s lead to 86-82.
Bohannon said he knew it was good as soon as it left his hand.
“Whenever you have that shot in the game, you don’t notice how much time there is left on the clock," Bohannon said. "You just shoot it like you normally do.”
Bohannon finished with 19 points, including 5-of-8 marksmanship from 3-point range. Iowa made 12 of 28 3-pointers overall.
The Hawkeyes improved to 15-3 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten Conference, with their fourth straight win. Penn State fell to 7-11, 0-7.
It didn't look promising for a while.
A six-point Iowa lead became a five-point halftime deficit, at 45-40, with a meltdown in the final four minutes. After taking a 37-31 lead on Garza’s free throws, 3:55 before halftime, the Hawkeyes lost their way on both sides of the ball.
Penn State players breezed to the bucket, often uncontested, for easy lay-ups. The Nittany Lions went 5-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the foul line to finish the half on a 14-3 run.
Meanwhile, Iowa couldn’t buy a bucket, failing to get one in the last 4:45 of the first half, and committed unforced turnovers — including a second three-second violation on Garza.
The Nittany Lions hadn’t scored more than 35 points in any of their previous nine halves of basketball; they beat that mark by 10 in the first half Wednesday.
With 13:40 left in the game, Penn State had already topped its Big Ten season average of 58.0 points per game. With 11:05 left, the Hawkeyes trailed by eight, at 68-60.
Still, they gave themselves a chance.
Wieskamp's layup with 5:57 left pushed Iowa ahead, 74-72. Garza's free throw put them ahead again, 83-82. Iowa shot 57.6 percent in the second half against a weary Penn State defense.
“Garza was great. Bohannon makes a big shot. You’ve got to give Penn State credit, we’re up seven with three-something left (at 80-79)," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "And then how we maintained our composure and got the lead back and got the stops we needed."
And the win they needed, too.