Game Grades: Iowa

Story posted February 22, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Matt Noah

The Penn State Nittany Lions lost in a close game to the Iowa Hawkeyes 74-68 on Sunday night. The Nittany Lions played a back-and-forth game but could not get within striking distance to gain the lead in the final six minutes. The No. 11 Hawkeyes’ record becomes 17-6, while Penn State moves to 7-12. Let’s give out some grades from the game for the offense, defense and coaching.

Offense: C

Now on a four-game losing streak, the main culprit seems to be the offense. Despite putting up 68 points, the Nittany Lions once again fell victim to poor shooting.

The team shot 22 of 62 from the field (35.5%) and 11 of 33 for 3-point attempts (33%). Penn State did out-shoot Iowa in both total shot attempts and shots beyond the arc.

The leading scorers for the Nittany Lions were Myreon Jones and Izaiah Brockington, both with 11 points. However, it was not efficient; Jones shot 3 of 15, and Brockington went 4 for 10.

Penn State really took itself out of the game in the second half. The Nittany Lions continue to take more shots than their opponents but fail to shoot at a good clip. When the Nittany Lions have an efficient shooting night, they should be able to beat any team.

Defense: B-

Playing the Iowa Hawkeyes, which have the frontrunner for the Wooden Award, is a daunting task. You cannot stop Luka Garza. You can only hope to contain him.

The defense overall was successful in limiting the total number of shots that Iowa took but allowed many high-percentage shot attempts. As a result, the Hawkeyes shot 26-of 58 (44.8%) and 10 of 25 from 3-point land (40%).

Defensively for the Nittany Lions, bench players Trent Buttrick and Sam Sessoms each chipped in three steals. Penn State also forced more turnovers than it allowed, but the team was outrebounded by 11.

Iowa’s performance was highlighted by Garza, who scored 23 points with 11 rebounds, alongside CJ Fredrick, who had 18 points. Joe Wieskamp had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Nittany Lions defense did a solid job of not letting Garza take over the game, but it allowed many of the secondary scoring options to put up above-average scoring performances. The defense kept the team in the game but the offense could not keep pace.

Coaching: C+

Yes, the Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked No. 11 in the country. However, shooting 30 or more 3-point attempts each game will not be a successful strategy for the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The lesson to be taken away from this game is that the Nittany Lions need to find better quality shots and not settle for contested 3-pointers as they often did on Sunday.

This could have helped for a late push in the final six minutes to make the game competitive. The game was tied with 8:29 remaining in the second half at 54, so there was no reason Penn State could not have run away with it and upset the Hawkeyes.

Coach Jim Ferry has his team consistently playing with passion and effort; it’s unfortunate their record does not reflect the heart the team is displaying.

They will have to go back to the drawing board to prepare for their next game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. It is an away game and a chance for the Nittany Lions to snap their losing streak. The Cornhuskers are 5-15 and beat Penn State in a 62-61 thriller on Feb. 14. The Nittany Lions will be looking to avenge their loss.


Matt Noah is a sophomore majoring in journalism. To contact him, email