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Penn State can’t hang with No. 16 Iowa

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Nittany Lions led at half but faltered down the stretch, losing to the Hawkeyes 82-70

The pair of DJ Newbill and Tim Frazier predictably paced the Penn State offense in Saturday’s losing effort. Newbill scored 22 and Frazier totaled 11 points, and also led the team with six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. John Johnson and Ross Travis pitched in a combined 21 points off the bench.

Four of Iowa’s starters scored in the double digits. Melsahn Besabe led the way with 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, Roy Devyn Marble had 15 (10-12 at the line), Aaron White added 14, as well as seven boards, and Mike Gesell tallied 13 (4-5 from deep) and led the Hawkeyes with seven assists.

Penn State (13-13, 4-9 Big Ten) has enjoyed some recent success, winning four of their last seven, including a comeback win at Indiana, which was also their first victory in Bloomington since 2009. Much of the Lions’ recent success can be attributed to the strong play of Newbill and Frazier, who continue to be the highest scoring guard combination in the Big Ten, and currently rank fifth in the nation in that category.

Iowa (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) is ranked 16th in the latest AP poll. They lead the Big Ten in rebound differential and are in the hunt for their first trip to the Big Dance since 2006.

True to form, the Hawkeyes owned the paint and the glass early, jumping out to a quick 11-4 lead. Gabriel Olaseni made his defensive presence felt with three big blocks early in the contest, including two swats on consecutive Penn State possessions.

Despite appearing outplayed, Penn State managed to keep the score close. Their patience with the ball allowed them to slow down an Iowa offense that was constantly searching for opportunities to prove its efficiency in transition.

The Lions were also aided by poor Iowa shooting; the Hawkeyes shot only a hair above 35 percent in the first half, including just 2-9 from beyond the arc.

A late 12-2 run gave Penn State their first lead of the game, and they entered halftime up 33-31.

The game remained close early in the second half. The first eight minutes showcased seven separate ties or lead changes until a Marble 3-pointer pushed the score to 49-44 in Iowa’s favor.

Iowa’s lead never dropped below five points for the rest of the game. With three minutes left, a clutch Gesell 3-pointer made the score 65-55, and the Hawkeye’s glided to an 82-70 finish.

Penn State will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 20, when they visit the Nebraska Cornhuskers at 7 p.m. in Pinnacle Bank Arena.

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