March 7, 2010
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By Brandon Swedberg
MINNEAPOLIS–The Iowa men’s basketball team traveled to Minnesota on Sunday looking to spoil the Gopher’s Senior Night. Instead, the Hawkeyes closed out the regular season with a loss, 88-53.
After a difficult loss last Wednesday against Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes were looking forward to closing out the regular season with a victory. Instead, Iowa saw similar play from Minnesota as they did from Wisconsin.
“They [Minnesota] got rolling and just got to feeling so good and we couldn’t do anything to stop it,” UI head coach Todd Lickliter said. “You know this happens to teams. You just have to learn from this game.”
With the loss, Iowa drops to 10-21 overall and 4-14 in the Big Ten Conference. “We ended our season on the road at Wisconsin and at Minnesota. I don’t think any other team in the Big Ten ended their season with two on the road. And it is just tough with a team of freshman and sophomores.”
The Hawkeyes were able to compete with the Gophers for the first three minutes in the beginning, trailing 4-6, when Eric May hit a jumper to cut the Gopher lead to two.
Iowa will play Michigan Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament. Game time in Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse is set for 1:30 p.m. Iowa time.
But the offense went stagnant after May hit a lay-up with 10 minutes and 56 seconds left in the first half to bring the Hawkeyes within eight, 18-10. The Gophers then rattled off 17 straight points and held Iowa scoreless for 7 minutes and 25 seconds.
Iowa’s next basket didn’t come until junior Jarryd Cole hit a deep two-pointer with 3:16 left in the first half. The Gophers and Hawkeyes continued to trade baskets until sophomore Matt Gatens hit a jumper at the buzzer.
With the buzzer beating shot, Iowa went into the locker room trailing by 22, 42-20.
|Iowa Hawkeyes at Minnesota Golden Gophers||1st||2nd||Final|
|Iowa Hawkeyes (10-21, 4-14)||20||33||53|
|Minnesota Golden Gophers (18-12, 9-9)||42||46||88|
|Points: Aaron Fuller (Iowa) 16 | Lawrence Westbrook (Minnesota) 20|
|Rebounds: Jarryd Cole (Iowa) 6 | Ralph Sampson III (Minnesota) 6|
|Assists: Cully Payne (Iowa) 7 | Damian Johnson (Minnesota) 11|
“It was a tough game,” Cole said. “We defended well for the first few minutes, and they just came at us hard. When Matt hit that shot it gave us some momentum, but we just came out flat in the second.”
The Hawkeyes shot 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) from the field in the first, but went 0-8 from 3-point range. The Gophers were blazing from the court going 16 of 27 (59.3 percent), and went 6 of 9 (66.7 percent) from behind the arc.
Iowa came out in the second half with a renewed since of play. The Hawkeyes scored first off of a jumper from May at 19:29. The team then shot 5 of 8 in the first five minutes into the second half, but Minnesota seemed to have an answer for everything the Hawkeyes were doing.
The 22 point half time deficit was just too much to overcome for the young Hawkeyes, eventually losing by 35 points.
“There was just a lot of frustration out there tonight,” Cole said. “As a player we are taught between wanting to stay in the flow of things and get it done the right way, or rushing and forcing things to get the lead down as fast as possible. It’s just hard and you can’t play basketball like that whenever you don’t know what you want to do, which contributed to our loss.”
Leading the charge for the Hawkeyes was sophomore Aaron Fuller with 14 points. May and Gatens added 10 points followed by Cole with eight. Freshman Cully Payne contributed four points and demonstrated a character of toughness after sustaining an injury halfway through the second half.
Payne was driving the lane and went up for a layup with 12:58 left to play. While he was coming down, Payne landed awkwardly on his left knee and was down on the ground in excruciating pain. He was able to walk off the court and took a few minutes to recuperate. It was not known if he would reenter, but he was able to come back onto the court.
“I’m just happy for him that he hit a knee, and was able to return,” Lickliter said. “He is sore, and it hurts, but he will be ready for Thursday and the Big Ten Tournament.”
Iowa went 20 of 47 (42.6 percent) from the field and shot 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) from behind the arc for the game.
Minnesota senior Lawrence Westbrook led all scorers with 22 points. The Gophers shot 31 of 53 (58.5 percent) and 12 of 19 (63.2 percent) from 3-point range.
Iowa will next be in action on Thursday against Michigan in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa lost both games to Michigan this year.