Iowa Hawkeyes seal fate early in latest road loss, at Minnesota Gophers
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The turnovers created a 20-point hole.
The turnaround — sparked by an amazing scoring burst from Isaiah Moss — came too late to matter for the Iowa men's basketball team.
The Hawkeyes battled back after a woeful opening eight minutes Wednesday but couldn't piece together enough offense to rally past Minnesota, falling 86-82 at Williams Arena.
The Gophers snapped a nine-game losing streak, getting 33 points from Nate Mason on his Senior Night.
"It was awful. We were turning the ball over too much. They were pressuring us and we let it get to us too much," Iowa center Luka Garza said of the opening sequence of the game, in which his team fell behind 22-2.
"They were taking us out of what we wanted to do and we weren't doing the same to them."
Iowa's Isaiah Moss nearly matched Mason and almost helped the Hawkeyes complete a miracle comeback. He ended with a career-high 32 points, but Iowa could get no closer than two points late in the game.
Moss had 19 points in the final 96 seconds to keep the crowd, announced at 11,732, uneasy until the final horn.
"My teammates just told me to keep shooting. They kept giving me the ball and I kept shooting and it went in," Moss said. "It's easy when it's going in. I can come back and shoot it again."
Iowa had to rally despite a scoreless outing from point guard Jordan Bohannon. Tyler Cook contributed only six points. Those are the Hawkeyes' top two scorers.
Instead, it was Garza keying a first-half rally and finishing with 16 points. Sophomore Ryan Kriener came off the bench and scored a career-high 15, all in the second half.
It wasn't enough to prevent a sixth consecutive loss for the Hawkeyes, who won only one road game this season. That was at Illinois, where Iowa was able to overcome a 20-point deficit.
Not this time.
Iowa got as close as 84-82 in the second half. Minnesota, behind Mason's superb Williams Arena farewell, answered every Hawkeye flurry.
Iowa shot 25-of-41 (61 percent) from the field in the second half and had only four turnovers in the final 32 minutes. The Hawkeyes scored 63 second-half points for naught. It was their most in a second half since 1990.
It was a battle of two of the bottom four teams in the Big Ten Conference. And it showed.
The teams took turns displaying lengthy stretches of ugly basketball in the first half.
Iowa (12-18, 3-14 Big Ten) had eight turnovers in the first eight minutes, while scoring just two points.
"We only had one basket for the longest time. Nobody seemed to be able to make anything," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "I'm proud of the way we fought after that."
Then the Gophers (15-15, 4-13) went 7-plus minutes without scoring a point while the Hawkeyes inched toward respectability. Freshmen Jack Nunge and Garza spearheaded an 11-0 Iowa run to cut the lead to 22-13.
Minnesota led 31-19 at halftime. It was Iowa’s worst scoring output in the first half of a conference game this season. Sophomores Bohannon and Cook didn’t record a point in the opening 20 minutes.
Bohannon ended up taking only two shots. He did lead Iowa with six assists.
"We were playing like we should have been down 40," Garza said. "To put 63 points on them in the second half, if we had played like that the whole game we would be leaving here with a different outcome."
Iowa concludes its regular season by hosting Northwestern at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.