A sharp rally couldn’t stop Iowa State’s losing streak.
The Hawkeyes nearly came back from an 18-point halftime deficit, but trailed 83-79 at Penn State on Sunday night.
It was Iowa’s third straight loss (8-6 overall, 0-3 in the Big Ten), but coach Fran McCaffrey saw some positive signs in the way the Hawkeyes fought in the second half.
Iowa beat Penn State 53-39 (11-3, 2-1) in the second half. The Hawkeyes doubled their scoring rate in the first half, shooting 56.3 percent from the field, while the Nittany Lions held on to 46.4 percent in the first half.
“I think our guys responded well,” McCaffrey said. “And we’re better defensively, and we’re better offensively.”
The Hawkeyes had a chance to tie or win in the closing seconds. Penn State’s Andrew Funk missed an extra-point front end with 12 seconds left. Iowa State’s Tony Perkins drives to the other end, stops and passes the ball to Chris Murray at the top of the key. But Penn State’s Seth Lundy snatched the ball away from Perkins on a turnover. Lundy was fouled by Murray and made the last two free throws.
scroll to continue
“I wanted Tony downhill,” McCaffrey said. “I wanted to set up a flat ball screen for him, we set up a wide double (screen) and it’s fine either way, you just give him space. He kind of gets there and I think he’s going to go — That’s what I want him to do. He’s trying to find Chris — we’re down by two, and I think he’s looking for Chris to hit a three when we just need to tie the game. He gets poked.”
After Penn State shot 63 percent from the field in the first half, the Hawkeyes trailed 44-26 at halftime.
“We tried to fight, but we didn’t connect,” McCaffrey said. “If you don’t go against this offense, this group, it’s going to be very difficult. And then it turned out – we were 18 points behind.”
After missing four games with a left leg injury, Iowa had 32 points and nine rebounds in Murray’s second game.
“He’s been consistent,” McCaffrey said. “He moves without the ball and nothing disturbs him.”
Perkins scored 17 points. Filip Rebraca has 13.
Jalen Pickett led Penn State with 16 points. Funk has 20 of them.