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No. 21 Penn State Electrifies Palestra with 89-86 Win Over No. 23 Iowa

Courtesy of GoPSU sports 

Philadelphia product Izaiah Brockington Scores career-best 23, 15 in second half

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – The No. 21 Penn State men’s basketball team (12-2, 2-1) extended its win streak to five games with an 89-86 win over No. 23 Iowa (10-4, 1-2) on Saturday, Jan. 4. The Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes battled for 40 minutes as PSU secured the win by making its final five shots and sophomore guard Myles Dread made six free throws in the final thirty seconds.

Redshirt sophomore guard and Philadelphia product Izaiah Brockington turned in a career-high 23 points in his hometown. Brockington scored 15 points in the second half and he and Curtis Jones Jr. were catalysts with 39 of Penn State’s 46 points off the bench as senior forwards Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins were hampered by foul trouble. Curtis Jones went 4-5 in the second half and a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc.

The sell-out crowd at The Palestra, mostly Penn State alumni and fans dressed in white to support their Nittany Lions, witnessed 24 lead changes and 10 ties. The Nittany Lions surged in the final 4:37 behind the energy in the building, going 5-5 from the floor keyed by a Mike Watkins dunk to pull Penn State within two points, 76-74. Curtis Jones Jr. knocked in a 3-pointer with 3:03 from the left wing to give the Nittany Lions their first lead, 77-76, in more than 10 minutes of playing time.

Stevens put Penn State up 79-78 with a jumper before Iowa center Lukas Garza scored his 34th point on a free throw to tie the game at 79 all with 1:47 left. Watkins’ next dunk, this one off a fast break, for an 81-79 PSU lead, was followed by a critical block by Watkins with 65 seconds remaining.

Another Stevens basket put Penn State up 83-79. Two Iowa free throws pulled the Hawkeyes within two with 32 seconds to play. Dread was fouled on the next play and made two free throws to nudge the Nittany Lions to 85-81. Iowa’s Joe Toussaint, who had 16 of his 18 points in the second half, made two field goals in the final three seconds for the final margin.

“As a young boy coming out here and being able to coach a game like that, my head is still spinning, that was wild,” said Penn State men’s basketball coach Patrick Chambers. “Just an amazing game. I want to thank Fran and Iowa for allowing us to move a home game to the Palestra…We created amazing memories for our team right now. A lot of work still to be done, but we came out and got the necessary stops that we had to in the last four minutes…We were able to find a way. Our mental toughness and mental conditioning really shined when we were down seven and then down six, we didn’t panic and that is what this group is doing.”

The Nittany Lions trailed by as many as seven points in the second half. Penn State held an eight-point advantage over Iowa at 37-29 with 3:02 to play before the break, but the Hawkeyes went on a 9-0 run to erase the deficit and grab a 38-37 lead. A poised Dread grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a jumper in the paint with three seconds to put PSU up 39-38 at halftime.

Four Nittany Lions finished with double-digits in scoring after Stevens was the only one with double figures at the half with 11. Along with Brockington, Stevens and Curtis Jones Jr. had 16 and Dread 14 on the afternoon. Dread grabbed a team and career-best seven rebounds.

Penn State’s defense forced 15 Iowa turnovers and capitalized with 20 points off those miscues while the Nittany Lions committed seven total turnovers and only two in the second half.

Garza, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, registered a double-double with a game-high 34 points with 19 coming in the second stanza. He had the game-high total in rebounds with 10.

Penn State stays on the road for a Tuesday, Jan. 7 game at Rutgers.

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