Early 20-point deficit too much to overcome
IOWA CITY, Iowa – If you had never watched basketball before Wednesday night, Iowa at Minnesota would have left you absolutely bewildered.
For those of you to whom this applies, I promise that most basketball games don’t look that ridiculous.
Iowa fought back from an early deficit to make the game competitive, but Minnesota rode 33 points from senior Nate Mason to a slim 86-82 victory.
Both teams came into the night with considerable losing streaks – Minnesota 9, Iowa 5. Both teams entered the game with a 3-13 conference record. Both teams played like it.
Iowa barely played at all in the first nine minutes.
Nearly one-fourth of the way into the game, Iowa trailed 22-2 and had already committed eight turnovers. It was, without a doubt, the flattest and most incompetent the Hawkeyes had looked on the floor all year (even more so than the 51-20 half versus Purdue IMO).
Iowa went scoreless for seven straight minutes during that time. With the 20-point deficit, the Hawkeyes officially trailed by 18+ points in every Big Ten road game they played this season.
This one’s over, might as well hit cruise and think about Northwestern. That’s what most teams would do.
What did Iowa do? Countered with an 11-0 run.
In a stunning turn, the Hawkeyes held the Golden Gophers scoreless for the next seven minutes and cut the lead to single digits. The rest of the half was filled with missed shots on both ends of the court, Minnesota would take a 31-19 lead at the break.
31-19. At halftime.
Go check the final score again.
Yeah, Iowa scored 63 points in the second half and lost by four. Not easy to do, on multiple levels.
The second half looked nothing like the first half. Teams traded buckets the entire half and margin stayed near 10 points the entire time. Iowa managed to get as close as five near the 10 minute mark.
Minnesota stretched the lead back to double-digits and was ready to put it away, but the Hawkeyes wouldn’t go quietly. Isaiah Moss was sure of that.
Iowa was forced to start fouling with just under two minutes to play, trailing by 10. Moss proceeded to put on an absolute clinic and nearly overcame the deficit himself.
Isaiah Moss scored 19 points in the final 1:36 of tonight’s game. #Hawkeyes ????
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) February 22, 2018
Yup, Moss scored as many points in 1:36 as Iowa scored total in the first 20 minutes.
Moss finished with a career-high 32 points thanks to his late-game scoring barrage.
Iowa was able to make a game out of this one thanks to a pair of big men who stepped up in the second half. Luka Garza continued to be the hustle-man for the Hawkeyes. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double.
The biggest surprise of the night was the out-of-the-blue contributions made by Ryan Kriener. The sophomore from Spirit Lake played just 14 minutes, but he played a huge role in the Hawkeye run that cut the lead to five.
Kriener scored 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and pulled down three rebounds.
Iowa even held on to the ball extremely well. The Hawkeyes had just 12 total turnovers after starting the game with eight in as many minutes.
Unfortunately, it’s had to win games when falling behind 22-2. That’s simply what did it.
Again, the fact that Iowa was even able to turn that atrocious start into a competitive ball game says a lot about the character of the team and the individuals. They don’t quit. You can’t teach that mentality.
Iowa (12-18, 2-14 Big Ten) has just one game left in the regular season. The Hawkeyes welcome the Northwestern Wildcats (15-14, 6-10 Big Ten) to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday at 6:30pm CST. Game can be seen on Big Ten Network.
Seniors Dom Uhl and Charlie Rose will be honored before tipoff. Cover photo credit: Hawkeye Images @wencentrick