Big second quarter not enough for Iowa's upset bid vs. No. 3 Maryland
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Destiny Slocum, who may well be the best freshman in the country, rose up for a 3-pointer to open the third period on Saturday against Iowa. She'd made 2 of 4 at that point, but she missed this one — badly. Way short and to the left.
The ball lodged itself between the rim and the backboard. It stayed up there as the crowd laughed and players enjoyed a brief timeout. Refs had to pull out a mop to loosen the ball. That bad boy was stuck.
Kind of like the Hawkeyes in the second half.
After outclassing the No. 3 team in the country for a 47-43 halftime lead, Iowa found itself knee-deep in a full-court press swamp that only a Final Four-caliber team could create. Maryland outscored the Hawkeyes, 55-35, in the second half and won, 98-82, dropping Iowa's Big Ten record to 2-3 and lifting Maryland's to 5-0.
"We made it a competitive game," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "You know, going up at halftime to Maryland, I think, is a really good achievement for us. But in the second half, we had too many turnovers."
The NCAA Tournament selection committee will likely only notice the final score. In fairness, the Hawkeyes did briefly play like the better team in the second quarter, when it outscored Maryland 31-16. They also led for nearly 10 minutes.
But Maryland handled them 82-51 in quarters one, three and four.
"We had a ton of energy out there. Complete team basketball, that was what was happening in the second quarter," Ally Disterhoft said. "I think we had a really great inside game, a really great outside game. Tania was stepping up and hitting some huge shots. I mean we scored 31 points that quarter. So I think that’s some of the best basketball we’ve played. But you have to put together an entire game of that."
Davis led Iowa with a career-best 25 points on 7 of 13 shooting. Disterhoft (18), Megan Gustafson (14) and Christina Buttenham (10) also netted double figures. Kathleen Doyle finished with a career-high seven assists.
Brionna Jones — "One of the best centers in, not only the Big Ten, but in America," Bluder said postgame — scored 25 for Maryland. Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 20 of her 22 points in the second half. Slocum had 14 and Ieshia Small had 10.
Jones got in early foul trouble and played 12 minutes in the first half, six in quarter No. 2. Maryland coach Brenda Frese said she wanted to implement her team's suffocating full-court press in the second quarter, but couldn't without Jones. She said her team was confident at halftime knowing it still had the full-court press in its pocket.
Maryland's press forced three turnovers on three consecutive Hawkeye possessions midway through the third, when the Terps permanently jumped ahead, 54-53.
"It sped us up, and that’s what presses are meant to do," Davis said. "And it definitely worked to their advantage. They sped us up, we made some uncharacteristic turnovers. When we beat the press and got into the half-court set, we rushed shots, made some turnovers."
Often in games like this, when Vegas puts the spread near 20, the favored team wins hours before tip. The underdogs play scared, don’t trust the skills that earned them a Division I athletic scholarship.
That’s what the first quarter looked like.
Davis drove to the bucket for an easy two before the Terrapins scored 15 unanswered points. Iowa’s energy dissipated. Drives weren’t as aggressive, open shots weren’t taken.
Maryland outscored Iowa 27-16 in that opening frame. It shot 63 percent (12-for-19) and grabbed more offensive rebounds (five) and the Hawkeyes had total rebounds (four).
Then, down 11 to a team known to end games by halftime, the Hawkeyes played their best basketball of the season in the next 10 minutes. They committed just one turnover. They attempted nine 3-pointers — a shot they've struggled with all year — and sunk five. Gustafson went 4-for-4 for eight points, three boards, an assist and a block.
Iowa pushed its lead to 53-48 early in the third on Gustafson's layup with 7:39 on the clock.
Then things fell apart.
Things got stuck.
Bain covers Hawkeyes' basketball for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.