Trailing Iowa, 73-70, with 1.5 seconds left Thursday night, Penn State guard Jermaine Marshall stepped to the line with a clear mission:
Hit the first, miss the second and hope for a tip-in.
Having already missed four free throw attempts in the second half, of course, Marshall hit both.
"We actually tried to miss the free throw there, and we made it, and the ones we're trying to make, we missed," head coach Patrick Chambers said. "You can't win in this game."
For the twelfth time in as many tries, the Nittany Lions couldn't win, ultimately falling 74-72 to the visiting Hawkeyes in front of an announced crowd of 7,636 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center. The loss ties the Nittany Lions' 12-game losing streak to open the Big Ten schedule during the 2009-10 season.
Despite the setback, the Nittany Lions (8-16 overall, 0-12 Big Ten) played one of their best games of the season against Iowa (16-9, 5-7).
Sophomore [db]D.J. Newbill[/db] led the way, sending home his eighth 20-point game of the season with a team-high 26 points and eight rebounds, in addition to his countless hustle plays.
"He was a great leader tonight," Chambers said. "It wasn't about the points. It was those hustle plays. He just kept persevering."
Said Newbill, "I was just playing with confidence. Just playing basketball, playing hard and giving it up for my teammates. I was out there just fighting and trying to get a win."
As a team, the Nittany Lions finished the game hitting 44.3 percent of their shots, eclipsing their league-low mark of just 35.3 percent from the floor against conference opponents, as well as a season-high 47.1 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.
Not surprisingly, they also had their chances all game.
Though they trailed by as many as 12 points midway through the second half, the Nittany Lions quickly cut the deficit back to four points at the 7 minute, 38 second mark, then eventually down to just a bucket at 66-64, with just 4:08 left to play. Even trailing 70-68 with just 1:13 remaining, the Nittany Lions landed a Ross Travis, but a Newbill missed 3-pointer on the other end resulted in a Marshall rebound and eventual tie-up, sending the possession back to Iowa.
The one-and-one by Aaron White missed with 30 seconds to play, giving the Nittany Lions yet another opportunity, though this time a Marshall runner in the lane was swatted away, setting up a pair of made Roy Devyn Marble free throws to effectively ice the game.
"We're having our ups and downs and right now, we're at a low," said Marshall. "But at the same time, i think we're going to keep a great attitude and keep pushing. We gotta bring the same intensity that we had for the game and bring it to practice tomorrow. We're just trying to push through."