Bradley hands Hawkeyes their first loss, 67-56

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season, 67-56, against Bradley on Friday in the third round of the South Padre Invitational.

“It’s the coach’s job to make sure his players get back and match up in transition,” Iowa Head Coach Todd Lickliter said. “It’s also the coach’s job to make sure his team blocks out and I’ll try to do a better job teaching that.”

Bradley finished with a slim edge in rebounding, 33-31, but 21 of those (including nine offensive) came in the second half.

For the game, the Hawkeyes made 22 of 49 field goals (44.9 percent) and 9 of 21 three-pointers (42.9). Iowa went to the free throw line just seven times, making three. Justin Johnson paced the Hawkeyes with 16 points, 13 coming in the first half. Kurt Looby sank 5 of 8 field goals and scored 12 points with a team-high eight rebounds. Jake Kelly was also in double figures with 11 points, while Seth Gorney scored six points with five rebounds.

Both teams are now 4-1 overall. It is the first meeting between Iowa and Bradley since 1976.

“Bradley was very quick and their guards hassled us all game,” said Kelly, who had four rebounds, three assists, two steals and just one turnover. “They just out-played us.”

The Hawkeyes raced to a 15-8 lead in the first half before Bradley intensified its perimeter defense and went on a 19-2 run over the next 8-minutes, 25-seconds. The Braves held a 37-30 lead at halftime. Bradley sank 11 three-point field goals and made eight free throws. Iowa countered with nine treys, but just three free throws.

“Bradley really extended the floor and put pressure on us,” Lickliter said. “But we didn’t match up well in transition and we did not get them off the glass.”

Iowa got within five points in the second half at 49-44 after a made jumper by Kelly with 8:46 remaining. The Braves widened the gap to 12 points twice before a three-pointer by Kelly made the score 59-53 with 3:33 left. Iowa would get no closer as Bradley closed on an 8-3 run.

The Hawkeyes had 17 assists and 17 turnovers. Dan Bohall distributed five assists for Iowa, followed by Jeff Peterson, Kelly and Gorney with three apiece. The Hawkeyes dominated bench scoring (14-2), but Bradley doubled Iowa in second-chance points (10-5).

“There isn’t a selfish guy on our team,” Lickliter said. “I’m glad that I’m coaching these guys.”

The Hawkeyes are back in action Saturday againsty Utah State, a 77-56 loser to Vanderbilt.