Through the first 20 minutes in Iowa City, the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes seemed destined for a classic in Iowa City. The hosts had different plans, however. Behind hot shooting, and strong defense for much of the final 20, Iowa was able to pull away for a 77-68 win.
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Seth Lundy was the story of the first half for the Lions. The freshman forward was on fire from three, hitting four from deep en route to a 14-point half. That hot shooting, and an impressive defensive performance against Iowa big man Luka Garza were the stories of the opening period. The Big Ten Player of the Year candidate was just 3-of-16 from the field for seven points in the first 20 minutes.
Penn State was able to pull away to leads of both seven and eight points late in the first half, but as they did much of the afternoon, Iowa always had an answer. After a Curtis Jones triple gave the Lions a 30-22 lead, the Hawkeyes responded with a 13-4 run to close the half, and head into the locker room with the 35-34 halftime lead.
The run only continued on the other side of the break with a 10-2 Hawkeye run to open the half. That margin would be more than enough, as Penn State was unable to get any closer than eight points down the stretch. Garza was a major reason why, with 14 points over the final 20 minutes.
Lamar Stevens led Penn State with 20 points of his own, while Lundy putting up a new career-high 19, with only five points coming late in the second half. Myles Dread (11) was the only other Nittany Lion in double figures. Guard Myreon Jones returned to action after missing the previous six games with an illness. He played 23 minutes, scoring four points.
The loss all but ends Penn State's hopes for its first-ever Big Ten title. A conference tournament double-bye, however, remains very much within reach. The Lions can take a big step towards a top-four finish in the league on Tuesday night when Michigan State visits the Bryce Jordan Center. That game will tip at 7 p.m. on ESPN.