The Penn State men’s basketball team couldn’t hit a shot for nearly seven minutes in the first half and couldn’t recover in a 90-79 loss to Iowa on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions missed 11 straight shots late in the first half, watching a one-point lead turn into a 13-point deficit as the Hawkeyes supporting cast ignited the team’s offense with star guard Peter Jok on the bench due to foul trouble.
Jok scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half to lead Iowa to the blowout win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Nicholas Baer added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Cordell Pemsl finished with 14 for the Hawkeyes (18-13, 10-8).
Josh Reaves scored a career-high 25 points for the Nittany Lions (14-17, 6-12), and Mike Watkins finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
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Penn State finished the regular season on a five-game losing streak, while Iowa extended its winning streak to four games.
“I knew they were a hot team. They knew what was at stake,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers told The Associated Press. “We couldn’t get stops. They made tough shots.”
Penn State trailed 47-36 at halftime after its scoring drought late in the first half.
Shep Garner knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Nittany Lions a 25-24 lead with 9:49 left in the half. Penn State then went cold and didn’t score until Watkins finished inside to cut Iowa’s lead to 38-27 with 2:57 to go before the break.
While the Nittany Lions struggled to score, Baer and Pemsl led the Hawkeyes offensively. The Iowa forwards both scored 10 points in the first half.
Jok, who sat for much of the first half with two fouls, scored just one point in the first half on a free throw with 1:02 left.
“I really thought about putting him back in with about seven minutes to go in the first half,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told reporters during the postgame press conference. “I put him in to shoot the techs and got him out right away. I just didn’t want him to be handcuffed in the second half. I wanted him to be able to just go get buckets and play his game.”
His free throw came after Chambers picked up a technical foul for arguing when Pemsl dove late to tie up Isaiah Washington for a jump ball.
Jok came into the game leading the Big Ten in scoring with 20.1 points per game.
In the first three-plus minutes of the second half, Jok scored 11 points to push Iowa ahead by 14.
“The guys said they were going to find me so I just had to score,” Jok said. “So I just got on a run and then they kept finding me.”
The Hawkeyes led by as many as 27 in the win.
The Big Ten tournament starts Wednesday in Washington, D.C.