IOWA CITY, Iowa — Aaron White had a career-high 27 points and Iowa beat Penn State 76-67 Thursday night, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Melsahn Basabe had 10 points and 10 rebounds in his first start of the season for the Hawkeyes (14-7, 3-5 Big Ten), who hit 31 free throws in 39 tries.
Iowa took the lead with an early 14-0 run and never looked back against the last winless team in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes let Penn State creep back within 69-62 with 1:30 left, but White answered with a three-point play for Iowa.
D.J. Newbill had 20 points for Penn State (8-13, 0-9), which committed 18 turnovers.
Over the past month, Iowa has played a slate as tough as any team in the country. That’s why a win over the hapless Nittany Lions was one the Hawkeyes simply had to have.
Iowa opened the Big Ten on New Year’s Eve with a narrow loss to No. 3 Indiana and subsequently fell to ranked opponents Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. A disheartening overtime loss at Purdue last Sunday and an impending road trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin only amped up the urgency for the Hawkeyes.
They got off to an awful start anyway.
Fortunately for Iowa, it lasted only four minutes.
The Hawkeyes started Basabe and left guard Anthony Clemmons on the bench, only to fall behind 10-3 to a Penn State team that entered play ranked 328th nationally in field goal percentage at 38.9.
Iowa responded with 14 straight points, a surge kick-started by three quick layups from White, for a lead it would not relinquish.
Clemmons had eight points in just 14 minutes for the Hawkeyes, and struggling center Adam Woodbury had six points and three blocks.
Penn State hung around for a while — despite Iowa’s early spurt — and made things mildly interesting late.
The Nittany Lions got as close as 39-36 on Sasa Borovnjak’s tip-in early in the second half before Iowa answered with a 12-2 run.
Penn State made a late push to cut a 15-point deficit down to seven in just five minutes. But White scored five quick points to end Penn State’s slim shot at a comeback.
Jermaine Marshall scored 15 points for the Nittany Lions, who hit 14 of 16 free throws.
St. Francis Brooklyn 71, Robert Morris 61: Jalen Cannon and Brent Jones scored 16 points each and Akeem Johnson fell a point short of a double-double as St. Francis Brooklyn snapped Robert Morris’ six-game winning streak 71-61.
Johnson had nine points and 10 rebounds while Ben Mockford added 14 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting for the Terriers (9-11, 5-4 Northeast Conference), who entered having dropped three of their past four. Cannon added eight rebounds but saw his streak of consecutive double-doubles end at three.
Karvel Anderson and Anthony Myers-Pate each scored 14 points off the bench for Robert Morris (14-8, 6-3), while Russell Johnson added eight points and 15 rebounds.
Robert Morris’ Velton Jones entered the game with 1,499 points and 502 assists in his career, and was seeking to become the first 1,500-point, 500-assist player in Colonials’ history, but he injured his shoulder early and only played 2 minutes with no points.