Badgers survive to grab much needed conference win against Penn State

Khalil Iverson scored 16 points as Wisconsin knocked off Penn State 64-63.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Needing a win to avoid dropping its sixth game of the season, Wisconsin (1-1 Big Ten, 4-5 overall) came out with energy and a sense of urgency against Penn State (1-1, 7-3) Monday night. And while redshirt junior forward Ethan Happ helped set the tone early in UW’s 64-63 win, Happ received a critical boost from junior forward Khalil Iverson to help the Badgers survive and win their first road game of the season.

After falling behind early to Ohio State Saturday afternoon, UW looked like a different team in the initial minutes against the Nittany Lions. While Happ picked up an early foul less than five minutes into the game, the forward from Milan, Ill., remained active throughout Wisconsin’s first half, scoring seven points and grabbing eight rebounds.

UW’s 31-25 halftime lead, though, was largely a result of the improved play of Iverson. The junior forward, whose play has been inconsistent since moving into Wisconsin’s starting lineup this season, scored 14 first-half points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field. Happ found Iverson lurking on the baseline multiple times throughout the half and Iverson converted on a variety of dunks and layups.

The Badgers finished the first half on a 6-0 run and immediately started to extend their cushion coming out of the locker room. Even with Happ picking up his third foul just over two minutes into the half, UW didn’t fold. Timely baskets from Iverson and freshman forward Nathan Reuvers helped Wisconsin remain in front.

The Badgers led by 17 points with 9:36 to play as their slow and deliberate offense continued to break down what has been a stout Nittany Lions defense so far this season. UW’s defense might have surrendered 22 points to PSU sophomore forward Mike Watkins, but it prevented Penn State’s leading scorer, sophomore guard Tony Carr, from mustering up a consistent rhythm early in the half.

Carr got going late, though, and finished with 17 points in 38 minutes, but only three players scored in double figures for the Nittany Lions.

Wisconsin’s double-digit cushion was cut to three with 1:53 to play as foul trouble for Happ and Iverson coupled with Penn State’s press helped disrupt UW’s offense. Freshman guard Brad Davison fouled out of the game with 43.5 seconds to play diving for a loose ball, sending PSU’s Shep Garner to the line in the process.

With under a minute to play, leading by only one, sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice was fouled by Watkins and calmly made both of his foul shots. In the final thirty seconds, the teams traded free throws before a 3-pointer by Carr that would have won the game hit front iron and bounced out.

Iverson led UW with 16 points and Happ chipped in nine points and 14 rebounds. Reuvers played yet another productive game as he finished with 11 points in 13 minutes off the bench.

Wisconsin stays on the road in Pennsylvania as it faces off against Temple Wednesday night at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

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