No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes manhandle Northern Iowa in Hy-Vee Classic farewell

Mark Emmert
Hawk Central

The seven-year run of the Hy-Vee Classic ended with an utter mismatch.

Iowa made sure of that.

The Hawkeyes threw their weight around all evening inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, manhandling a small Northern Iowa squad 77-54.

It was a bland finale for an event originally billed as the Big Four Classic, pitting Iowa's four Division I teams against each other in a doubleheader in the state's biggest arena. The matchups are ending after this season.

The Hawkeyes won by taking advantage of post players Tyler Cook and Luka Garza inside and by stifling Northern Iowa star freshman A.J. Green on the perimeter. The game was essentially over in the first half, when Iowa stretched its lead to 25-7 on a Nicholas Baer 3-pointer.

Iowa finishes 6-1 in the Hy-Vee Classic, with the lone loss in 2014 to these Panthers.

The Hawkeyes, coming off a nine-day layoff after beating Iowa State on Dec. 6, showed no signs that they had lost their edge, building a 12-3 lead before the first media timeout.

Iowa's Luka Garza (55) tries to get a shot off around UNI's JustinÊDahl (15) during their basketball game at the Hy-Vee Classic on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, in Des Moines. Iowa takes a 39-18 lead over UNI into halftime.

The last time No. 21 Iowa (8-2) faced Northern Iowa (4-6) in this event, the Hawkeyes allowed only 16 first-half points and rolled to a 69-46 victory.

On Saturday, the Panthers mustered a mere 18 first-half points, on 21.4 percent shooting. The Hawkeyes easily built a 39-18 intermission margin.

Guard Jordan Bohannon made a 3-pointer that was the 200th of his Hawkeye career. But his bigger contribution was in shutting down Green, who had been averaging 15 points per game. He had only two Saturday. He made just one of his 8 shots with Bohannon, at 6-foot-1, hounding him despite giving up three inches in height.

Garza, who had scored only eight points in the previous two games, had 12 in the first half alone. Cook added 11.

The Panthers simply had no one who could contend with the Hawkeyes’ size inside. Starting center Luke McDonnell was hampered by foul trouble.

Northern Iowa tried double-teaming Cook and Garza, but it didn't matter. They combined to make 13 of 21 shots. They each finished with 17 points.

Iowa next hosts Western Carolina at 8 p.m. Tuesday.