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Matt Gatens sparks Iowa, but Hawkeyes’ rally falls short

Scott Dochterman, CR Gazette –

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Matt Gatens’ performance Thursday night was emblematic of Iowa’s effort in an unfortunate way.

Gatens missed all five shot attempts in the first half, and the Hawkeyes followed his offensive woes in falling behind by 14 points. Then, Gatens hit five consecutive 3-pointers to start the second half to put Iowa in position to steal a road victory at Penn State.

But Gatens’ — and Iowa’s — rally came too late. The Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome their first-half miscues in a 69-64 loss at Bryce Jordan Arena. It was tough for Gatens and the Hawkeyes, who stormed back from a 16-point second-half deficit to close within two points twice inside of the game’s final three minutes.

“I thought our guys battled in the second half, but it takes 40 minutes of playing that kind of basketball,” said Gatens (pictured), who finished with 21 points. “We only played 15-20.”

Penn State led Iowa 25-12 with 8:06 left in the first half. Iowa chipped away at the lead, but the Nittany Lions finished the half on a 6-0 run to take a 38-24 halftime lead.

“We came out flat,” Iowa freshman Aaron White said. “We came out with no energy. Almost played the exact opposite in the second half, but we dug ourselves a pretty good hole.”

Iowa (13-13, 5-8 Big Ten) scrapped for most of the second half and pulled within 56-49 on Gatens’ fourth 3-pointer. Gatens then added a pair of free throws and Melsahn Basabe blasted a dunk on top of Sasa Borovnjak to cut Iowa’s deficit to three points with 6:01 left.

After Iowa twice sliced Penn State’s lead to two points, Penn State responded with big baskets. The second was a Jermaine Marshall 3-pointer with 1:43 left in the game to give Penn State a 66-61 lead.

Gatens, who scored all but two of his points in the second half, responded with a jumper in the lane to move Iowa within 66-63. Iowa forced the Lions into a bad shot, and Basabe grabbed the rebound. Basabe was fouled by Marshall, but Basabe missed both free throws.

Free-throw shooting doomed Iowa down the stretch. The Hawkeyes made 18-of-27 and missed four in the last 2:40.

“That’s unfortunate because we got it back to a one-possession game and then couldn’t close it out with free throws,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “We were working hard enough to get there; Josh (Oglesby) misses one, Aaron missed one, and Mel missed three.”

After Basabe’s misses, Iowa went after Penn State Jon Graham, a 33 percent free-throw shooter. But Graham hit both shots to essentially put the game away at 68-63 with 6.9 seconds left.

“To his credit we fouled him on purpose,” McCaffery said. “We let him catch and fouled. He’s a (33) percent foul shooter and give the kid credit: he stepped up there.”

Iowa played without starting point guard Bryce Cartwright, who suffered a high right ankle sprain in practice Saturday. McCaffery said Cartwright is doubtful for Sunday’s game against Indiana. Devyn Marble played all 40 minutes for Iowa at the point, scoring 13 points and dishing six assists.

IOWA (13-13)

McCabe 0-1 2-2 2, White 6-11 3-4 16, Oglesby 1-7 1-3 3, Marble 4-10 5-7 13, Gatens 6-13 4-4 21, Olaseni 0-2 0-0 0, Basabe 2-3 3-7 7, Brommer 0-0 0-0 0, May 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 20-49 18-27 64.

PENN ST. (12-15)

Graham 3-3 4-4 10, Travis 1-3 0-2 2, Colella 2-6 4-4 9, Frazier 6-13 6-6 18, Woodyard 4-9 3-4 13, Glover 0-3 3-4 3, Marshall 4-12 0-0 10, Montminy 0-0 0-0 0, Borovnjak 1-4 2-4 4. Totals 21-53 22-28 69.

Halftime_Penn St. 38-24. 3-Point Goals_Iowa 6-18 (Gatens 5-7, White 1-3, May 0-1, Marble 0-2, Oglesby 0-5), Penn St. 5-17 (Marshall 2-5, Woodyard 2-5, Colella 1-5, Glover 0-1, Frazier 0-1). Fouled Out_McCabe. Rebounds_Iowa 34 (White 10), Penn St. 34 (Marshall 7). Assists_Iowa 13 (Marble 6), Penn St. 11 (Frazier, Glover 4). Total Fouls_Iowa 18, Penn St. 22. A_6,794.

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