Fran McCaffery tossed, Hawkeyes fall at Maryland: 'Just a weird game'

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Fran McCaffery got fiery, then ejected inside the Xfinity Center on Sunday night.

His Iowa players played with fire of their own, hardly the look of a team that came here winless in the Big Ten Conference.

Ultimately, though, playing with purpose and lights-out 3-point shooting wasn’t enough to pull the upset as Maryland pulled away for a 91-73 victory before 13,352 fans.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, second from left, walks off the court after being ejected in the first half at Maryland.

Iowa dropped to 9-9 overall and 0-5 in Big Ten play.

The story of the night, though, was who was not on the floor for Iowa at the end of this heated game.

And, yes, the officiating.

"It was just a weird game, I guess you could say," point guard Jordan Bohannon said afterward. "I don’t think I’ve ever been part of the type of game like that before."

Bohannon was at the center of two flash-point calls by the crew of Bo Boroski, Rob Riley and Donnie Eppley.

First, he was called for a phantom foul; replays showed Bohannon never touched guard Anthony Cowan on a first-half shot attempt, but he got two free throws anyway.

Then, Bohannon was called for traveling with 45 seconds left in the first half. Yeah, he traveled. But what happened before it had McCaffery upset.

“I think I got fouled probably four times in a matter of 5 seconds (before that)," Bohannon said. "That’s Big Ten basketball, and you’ve just got to play through it.”

That's when McCaffery charged onto the floor and got two quick technical fouls, resulting in his first ejection in four years.

Maryland guard Anthony Cowan reacts after Iowa received a technical foul call in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in College Park, Md., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. Maryland won 91-73. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Iowa was trailing, 45-42, when he got the boot. Maryland made 3 of 4 technical free throws and took a 48-44 lead into halftime.

"I think what you have to do in situations like this, I think you have to take responsibility," McCaffery said. "I didn’t want to get tossed. I don’t think you ever want to put your team in that position and give them four free throws.

"But at the end of the day, we’re out fighting for them. I’m going to fight for my guys. So that’s what I did. I’m proud of how they competed after that. I thought they fought hard.”

McCaffery wasn't alone in his frustration.

Hawkeye players were angry that Cowan wasn't called for a foul after delivering an elbow to Cordell Pemsl's head area when he was fighting through a screen.

“In my opinion, that was pretty dirty," Pemsl said. "There wasn’t any need for it in that situation. ... I definitely wasn’t OK with that, but there’s only so much you can do.”

The tension kept building into the second half, when more officiating controversy ensued. 

With 6:15 remaining, Iowa lost its best player after Tyler Cook picked up a charging foul, then got a technical of his own for shoving Terrapins big man Bruno Fernando — resulting in his fifth foul.

Fernando had stepped over Cook and taunted him, and also got a technical.

“Hit the ground. Guy steps over me and stands there," Cook said, recounting the moment. "I get up, and the ref said if I hadn’t pushed him, then he would’ve gotten the (only) tech.”

Cook was upset.

“What he did was blatant disrespect," he continued. "I’m always going to defend myself. That’s just how it is.”

He was on the bench for much of Maryland's 30-9 game-ending run. Iowa's leading scorer finished with seven points in 27 minutes.

It was a disappointing end to what was a promising start for the Hawkeyes.

They raced to a 17-7 lead out of the gate.

At one point, they had hit 10 of 14 attempts from 3-point range. Bohannon’s 3-pointer with 10:59 remaining had Iowa in front, 64-61.

But the Terrapins (14-4, 3-2) took control from there against an Iowa defense that continues to struggle. Maryland became the second straight opponent to score 90-plus on the Hawkeyes, shooting 57 percent.

The Terrapins made an astonishing 30 of 43 2-point attempts, many of them easy layups or dunks.

Until McCaffery’s ejection, the first half followed some similar Hawkeye themes during their recent struggles.

There was shaky defense — the Terrapins unbelievably canned 11 straight shots at one point.

Maryland guard Darryl Morsell (10) dunks on Iowa guard Isaiah Moss in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in College Park, Md., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. Maryland won 91-73. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

There were too many miscues — Iowa committed eight first-half turnovers, several of them unforced, and finished with 17 for the game.

There was also the usual scoring lull — the Hawkeyes, despite a hot shooting half (55 percent), went 4:25 without scoring.

Isaiah Moss was fantastic for the Hawkeyes, pouring in a career-high 25 points on 10 of 16 shooting. Bohannon scored 17 points, making five 3-pointers.

Iowa finished 11 of 21 from long range for the night. But it wasn't enough.

The Hawkeyes return to action Thursday at Illinois.