Analysis: After two incredible finishes for Iowa basketball, law of averages catches up to Hawkeyes in Maryland loss

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — It was fitting that Tuesday’s game ended with two missed shots by Iowa, because that was the theme of Maryland’s 66-65 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The No. 19 Hawkeyes (20-6, 9-6 Big Ten Conference) were dreadful when it came to putting the ball in the basket. Isaiah Moss made 4 of 14; Jordan Bohannon 2 of 11; Luka Garza 1 of 7; and Joe Wieskamp missed all five of his attempts.

That’s four Iowa starters who are ordinarily very gifted about getting shots to fall who simply had poor nights on the same night. That’s too much to overcome.

“We just had a lot of guys with an off night shooting,” Bohannon said after Iowa made only 19 of its 58 field-goal attempts (32.8 percent). “I thought I had good looks at the end of the game that I just couldn’t make. That’s what happens sometimes in the Big Ten. You’re going to have nights like that.”

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon (3) draws contact from Maryland guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (1) during a NCAA Big Ten Conference men's basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Bohannon and Moss each had shots on the final sequence that fell off the rim. That was after two consecutive last-second victories. The law of averages caught up to Iowa at last. No team can afford to take every game down to the final possession.

“It’s hard to win three games, especially in the Big Ten, at the last second,” Bohannon said. “We’ve been playing really well down the stretch. I think that says a lot about this team.”

Cook holds his own in the post

Iowa power forward Tyler Cook took only four shots, but he made three of them, all dunks. It was a quiet game offensively for him.

“We're in a motion offense. Yes, they were paying attention to him. They were coming sometimes to double. I want him to shoot more,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

“We try to get him free in transition, try to get him free in motion. Ran some sets. It's one of those things.”

Cook said he wasn’t turning down shots. It was just that he didn’t get as many touches as he normally does.

But the same was true of Maryland’s post players, and Cook deserves credit for that. Terrapins star Bruno Fernando scored 11 points, including the game-winner on a putback with 7.8 seconds left. But he was 2 of 5 from the field; standout freshman forward Jalen Smith was 2 of 4.

Cook was the only Iowa big man on the floor down the stretch. Garza was benched and McCaffery opted to go with a smaller lineup instead of using backup center Ryan Kriener.

“I knew it would be a battle. I knew we’d either both go off or neither of us would have a huge offensive day,” Cook said of his matchup with Fernando.

“One on one, he’s a great player. So we had guys digging. We doubled a few times. And thankfully I was able to keep him off the block, keep him out of his comfort zone a little bit.”

Garza takes performance to heart

Garza scored all five of his points in the first half. He had three rebounds, all on the offensive end, proving he was active, just not effective.

It’s been four quiet games in a row for the Hawkeye sophomore, and he showed afterwards that he was feeling the strain.

“I don’t think I did one good thing tonight. Terrible performance. Frustrated with myself,” Garza told reporters in an unusually hushed tone.

“I just wasn’t able to help my team at all. … They’re defending me well, but that’s a game I know I can dominate. For some reason, I wasn’t able to.”

Garza puts a lot of pressure on himself to perform. Maybe too much pressure. He looks like a player struggling to get back into his comfort zone right now. The Hawkeyes certainly need him to get there soon. He’s too big of an offensive threat.

Bohannon shows frustration as well

Maryland was called for 22 fouls, Iowa just 12. Still, Bohannon was exasperated by what he felt were a number of uncalled fouls, particularly on Terrapins guard Anthony Cowan.

“I was getting frustrated a little bit with the officiating. As much as I hate to say it, I think Cowan should have been fouled out in the first half, honestly, the way he plays. Every official I think knows the way he plays, and you saw that towards the end of the game how much he was fouling,” said Bohannon, who showed his disgust after one Cowan foul when he turned and flung the basketball against the rim of Maryland’s basket.

Cowan was called for four fouls. Bohannon made 8 of 9 free throws. But Cowan was not whistled on Bohannon’s final shot. Bohannon said Cowan grabbed him on the forearm on that play. Cowan told reporters he had his hand on the ball.

“It’s crazy. I put my hand on him, it’s a foul. But he can ride me the entire game and I get called for a ticky-tack foul in the first half where I didn’t touch him. So it’s just how it goes sometimes,” Bohannon said.