STATE COLLEGE, Pa. A win's a win.
After losing its last three road games in the final seconds or overtime, Iowa held off pesky Penn State 74-72 Thursday night at Bryce Jordan Center. The Hawkeyes had leads of seven points at least three different times, but the Nittany Lions clawed back into contention. But this time, the Hawkeyes made enough late free throws to seal the game.
"Phenomenally proud," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "We had a number of tough games and didn't close. We didn't play perfectly down the stretch but we made enough free throws, made enough plays, made enough stops to beat a team who's going to fight you like no other team. We knew that was going to happen."
Iowa's Devyn Marble, who scored a team-high 22 points. knocked down three free throws in the final 20.9 seconds left. After his first pair, Penn State guard D.J. Newbill rebounded his own missed 3-pointer and scored on a putback to bring Penn State within two points at 4.5 seconds left. Before the inbound pass, Melsahn Basabe was fouled. Basabe made one of two to give Iowa a 73-70 lead.
Penn State's Jermaine Marshall then stormed down the court and was fouled by Marble with 1.5 seconds left. Marshall made both, including the second seemingly by accident, to cut Iowa's lead to 73-72.
Marble was fouled on the inbound with 0.1 seconds left. After a video review, the clock was changed to 1.1 seconds left. Marble made the first, missed the second and Marshall's last-second full-court heave went far left.
"It was just a great team effort," Iowa junior forward Melsahn Basabe said. "Devyn was big down the stretch. He put a lot of pressure on them. They couldn't guard him one-on-one.
"We just had big contributions from everybody."
Iowa nearly gave the game away. The Hawkeyes (16-9, 5-7 Big Ten) led 17-7 just 7:02 into the game Thursday and appeared set on blowing out Penn State, the Big Ten's only winless team (8-16, 0-12). But Iowa slipped into a defensive funk, allowing the Nittany Lions to mount a 16-0 run, built on three 3-pointers and a three-point play. The run came against Iowa's reserves, and McCaffery swiftly inserted his starters.
Iowa responded with an 11-0 run, highlighted on a jumper and a 3-pointer from guard Mike Gesell on consecutive possessions. But the Hawkeyes' 28-23 lead was quickly trimmed after three Iowa turnovers in four consecutive possessions. Newbill scored his 16th first-half point on a jumper with 55 seconds left in the half to take a 34-32 lead.
The Hawkeyes quickly bounced back. Aaron White found Devyn Marble under the basket for two, and Marble was fouled. Marble sank the free throw to put Iowa back on top. After Penn State's Jermaine Marshall missed, White drilled a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired to give Iowa the four-point lead.
Newbill led all scorers with 16 points. Gesell added 13 for Iowa. Basabe scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots, including a Marshall shot that led to Marble's free throws with 20.9 seconds left.
Iowa has lost five straight at Penn State before the win.