STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — In a wide-open men’s basketball game, Iowa closed Penn State down in the final two minutes and got an 89-82 victory at Bryce Jordan Center.
The 24th-ranked Hawkeyes earned their fourth-straight victory to improve to 4-3 in the Big Ten, 15-3 overall, and topped last season’s number of league road wins with their second in a week. Both came without team leading-scorer/rebounder Tyler Cook. The junior forward warmed up with his team before the game, but sat out with a sprained ankle.
“I think our toughness really carried us through this one,” Iowa junior post player Ryan Kriener said on the Hawkeye Radio Network postgame show. He tied his career-high in scoring with 15 points and added a career-high five assists.
The fifth assist was a biggie. After Joe Wieskamp tracked down an offensive rebound, Kriener fed Jordan Bohannon, who hit a 3-point bomb with 36 seconds left to give Iowa an 86-82 edge.
Penn State’s Josh Reaves missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and Iowa used one free throw by Kriener and two by Wieskamp to close things.
“Kriener was spectacular,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said on BTN, “and he’s been that all year long. We get it from him at both ends (of the court). He can score, he’s really smart, he rebounds and defends.
Also quite good was power forward Luka Garza. He matched his season-high of 22 points, and had a season-best 12 rebounds.
The game was a veritable roller coaster. Iowa had runs of 9-0 and 12-0 in the first half, yet trailed 45-40 at halftime. Penn State (7-11, 0-7 Big Ten) shot 50 percent from the field in the half.
The game was a veritable roller coaster. The Lions’ offense was 24 points better than the 58 points per game they had been averaging in league play. They broke to an 11-3 lead behind three 3-pointers by freshman guard Myles Dread.
“They jumped us,” McCaffery said. “We were uncharasterically poor on defense in that first three, four minutes.”
But Iowa gradually came back, then pulled ahead by as many as nine points before the Nittany Lions closed the half with a 25-11 run.
Before three minutes of the second half had elapsed, the Hawkeyes were back in front. But they found themselves down 68-60 with 11:05 left. The up-and-down nature of the game (11 lead changes, six ties) continued. Iowa led 79-72 with 4:18 left, then Reaves hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Lamar Stevens scored to give Penn State an 80-79 edge.
Bohannon’s fifth and final 3-pointer was one of his team’s shots of the season. It came from a few feet behind the 3-point line. He also had six assists.
At halftime, McCaffery said, “We talked about doing the things we didn’t do (in the first half). I challenged them to be better. I said ‘That’s behind us, it’s not going to happen this half.’ ”
Iowa shot 50 percent from the field (32 of 64). Isaiah Moss made all four of his 3-point tries in the first half, including three in a 50-second stretch to help his team to the aforementioned 12-0 run.
The Hawkeyes’ next game is at home Sunday at noon against Illinois.