STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Talor Battle broke out of a two-game shooting slump with 23 points and Jeff Brooks' sparkling two-way play lifted Penn State in a 65-51 win Wednesday night over Iowa.
The Nittany Lions (11-8, 4-4 Big Ten) led by nine midway through the second half but couldn't shake the pesky Hawkeyes (8-12, 1-7) after back-to-back turnovers helped Iowa get to within 50-45 with 6:12 left on Roy Devyn Marble's 3.
Brooks scored the next five on a bucket in the lane and a 3 to settle the Nittany Lions, and Battle's 3-point play with 2:36 left built the lead to 10. A loss to Iowa, the worst team in the conference, could have been disastrous for Penn State's cloudy postseason future.
Jarryd Cole led the Hawkeyes with 11 points, while Matt Gatens added 10
Brooks finished with 22, and his two first-half blocks riled up the crowd and helped the Nittany Lions erase an early 11-point deficit.
Iowa's Bryce Cartwright scored all nine of his points in the first half, when the Hawkeyes capitalized on eight turnovers and otherwise sloppy periods of play on the offensive end for Penn State.
That is, until Brooks sparked a 10-0 run with a pretty step-back 3 over a defender with 2:48 left to help Penn State lead 29-28 at the break. His two first-half blocks also riled up the crowd, including one in which the 6-foot-8 forward soared into the air and swatted the ball into the stands.
After going 2-3 in a brutal five-game stretch against Top 25 teams — including back-to-back road losses to Ohio State and Purdue by a combined four points — Penn State looked lethargic at points against the Hawkeyes.
Battle, the team's 6-foot dynamic scorer, energized Happy Valley after an 8-of-13 shooting night, twisting and turning in the lane to the bucket. He also hit from about 30 feet for his only 3 of the night. Battle had shot just 10 of 32 over his two previous games.
Iowa couldn't keep the momentum from a 91-77 win over Indiana on Sunday for its first conference victory of the season. After a good start early on the boards, Penn State outrebounded the Hawkeyes 30-21, including a 21-12 edge on the defensive glass.
(This version CORRECTS Penn State 65, Iowa 51. Corrects halftime score to 29-28 in 7th graf)