Hawkeyes continue to ride momentum
By TRAVIS JOHNSON
The Associated Press
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — With plenty of time left on the shot clock and his team nursing a slight lead late, Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon probably could’ve been more patient.
His coach is glad he wasn’t.
Bohannon stepped back with 36 seconds left and drained his fifth 3-pointer of the night to clinch the No. 23 Hawkeyes’ 89-82 win over Penn State on Wednesday night.
“It’s a good shot because he took it,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I would’ve been surprised if he didn’t shoot it.”
Bohannon finished with 19 points and Luka Garza matched a season-high 22 points and also grabbed 12 rebounds. Ryan Kriener had 15 off the bench for the Hawkeyes (15-3, 4-3 Big Ten), who won their fourth straight and ninth of 10.
Meanwhile, Penn State coach Patrick Chambers was surprised his team didn’t defend like it has recently when its last five opponents have failed to eclipse 71 points.
“It’s unfortunate that our defense wasn’t as good as it’s been all season long,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “The stats look fantastic but we couldn’t get the stops when we needed to.”
Josh Reaves and Rasir Bolton scored 16 points apiece for the Nittany Lions (7-11, 0-7), who led for most of the second half and by as many as eight with 11:05 left.
Mike Watkins chipped in 11 points and and 11 rebounds and Myles Dread scored 14 points for Penn State which scored the first eight points and led 45-40 at halftime.
After the teams swapped the lead five times in the final six minutes, Garza put Iowa ahead for good with a free throw that made it 83-82 with 1:36 to play.
Bohannon’s deep 3-pointer — from beyond NBA range — moments later put the game out of reach.
“We maintained our composure, got the lead back and got the stops we needed,” McCaffery said.
After opening with an 8-0 run, the Nittany Lions missed 16 of their next 21 shots including 10 misses from 3-point range.
OUT OF CHARACTER
Iowa’s not known as a 3-point shooting team and the Hawkeyes had made just 35 percent of their 3-pointers on the season heading into the game. However, they drained 12 of 28 (43 percent) overall against Penn State and 9 of 19 in the first half.
Iowa planned to harass Stevens all night with double teams and hoped the pressure would force Penn State’s top-scorer to pass more than shoot.
Stevens was still able to set up his shots but went just 4-for-18 and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. His eight points were a season-low and marked the first time he was held below double digits since March 1 last season.
“He’s getting in the gym,” Chambers said. “He’s not happy with his jump shot right now and it’s unfortunate because he’s working hard right now.”
COOK’S RETURN LOOMING
Iowa played its second game this season without starting forward Tyler Cook who’s nursing a sprained ankle suffered against Ohio State.
But the team’s leading scorer and rebounder is nearing a return. McCaffery said he’s hopeful Cook can return Saturday against Illinois.
“That’s the plan,” McCaffery said. “You never know with sprained ankles.”
Cook missed Iowa’s Jan. 9 game with a sore knee.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa: Coming off arguably their best game of the season, the Hawkeyes came back to earth a bit. They struggled to keep up with Penn State’s speed, especially early when the Nittany Lions posted nine of of their first 11 points on fastbreaks.
Penn State: The early portion of the Nittany Lions’ conference schedule has been brutal with five losses to Top 25 teams already. It eases up a bit as their next three opponents are a combined 8-9 in conference play so far.
Iowa hosts Illinois on Sunday.
Penn State visits Minnesota on Saturday.