BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Some extra free throw practice might be in order for No. 18 Iowa.
Greg Brunner scored 19 points and the Hawkeyes, despite missing eight foul shots in the final 4 minutes, held off a late comeback for a 70-67 victory over No. 24 Indiana on Saturday, snapping the Hoosiers’ 13-game Big Ten winning streak at home.
“It’s one of those games where it was just bouncing the other way,” said Brunner, who made two of four free throws. “I haven’t really seen that all year, and hopefully that’s not a trend that continues.”
Iowa was 15-for-26 for the game, matching its season-worst free throw performance. The Hawkeyes’ last 11 points were on free throws, but they repeatedly squandered chances to widen their lead by making only one of two foul shots on eight out of nine trips to the line in the closing minutes.
“We definitely have to come up and really focus and concentrate on hitting those free throws,” said Adam Haluska, whose miss with 5 seconds to go gave Indiana one last chance to tie the game. “That’s what wins games right there. We didn’t hit them; we still managed to win. Hopefully we can learn from that.”
It was the sixth loss in nine games for Indiana (13-8, 5-5), which did not have coach Mike Davis on the bench as he stayed home with a flu-like illness.
Iowa (19-6, 8-3) kept its hold on first place in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes led 38-30 at halftime and built their lead to as many as 16 points midway through the second half before Indiana’s final rally.
“Our defense was really our stronghold there, and our guys did a great job of hitting some key shots,” Haluska said. “We had a pretty good lead and then got careless. The way they can shoot the 3, no game is out of reach.”
Indiana pulled within 66-64 on a 3-pointer by Robert Vaden, and 67-65 on a free throw by Marco Killingsworth. Haluska then hit two foul shots for the Hawkeyes with 12 seconds remaining and one of two free throws with 5 seconds left, setting up the final play for the Hoosiers.
A 3-point attempt by A.J. Ratliff went off the rim at the buzzer, giving Iowa its fourth straight win over Indiana.
“We didn’t execute a lot down the stretch as far as foul shots, and the more you miss the more tense you get,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said. “It was a combination of missed free throws and not getting stops down the stretch that allowed them to get as close as they did.
“I’m just glad A.J. didn’t get his feet set. He had a real good look there,” Alford said.
Jeff Horner added 17 points for the Hawkeyes and Haluska finished with 13.
Killingsworth had 21 points and 17 rebounds for Indiana and Marshall Strickland added 18 points.
“We’re certainly disappointed in not being able to close it out. It’s hard to say we’re still learning how to play 40 minutes, but that’s the crux of it,” said Indiana assistant Donnie Marsh, who subbed for the ailing Davis.
“We got some help from them because they missed the free throws but we still had to make some shots ourselves,” Marsh said.
Iowa hit 10 of its first 14 shots, including 3-pointers by Horner, Mike Henderson and Haluska, and led all the way after a tie at 7.
A 3-pointer by Strickland pulled the Hoosiers within 28-26, but Indiana lost a chance to tie when Horner stole the ball and fed Henderson for a layup. Seconds later, Henderson hit two free throws for a 32-26 lead.
The Hawkeyes’ next two baskets were 3-pointers, including one by Brunner in the closing seconds for their eight-point halftime lead.
“Road or home, it becomes this simple: Our defense isn’t even close to where it needs to be,” Marsh said. “We’ve tried to address that in ways, tried to change it, but it eventually comes down to you being able to take care of your man, and we’ve struggled with that too long. We’ve got to shore up our defense.”
Indiana came within six points early in the second half before Iowa started pulling away. Consecutive baskets by Brunner, Horner and Henderson gave the Hawkeyes their biggest lead at 57-41.
“We got off to a slow start but played hard on defense and tried to take the fight to them,” Strickland said. “They’re a tough team. They have so many weapons, inside with Brunner and outside with their shooters. They stretched us out and got some open looks at the beginning of the game.”