Second Half Rally Not Enough for the Hawkeyes

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Jan. 16, 2011

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Iowa Hawkeye men’s basketball team didn’t make it easy for the No. 25-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers on Sunday. Iowa had answers for nationally ranked Minnesota, but ultimately not enough of them in the end as Iowa fell 69-59, losing its fifth straight Big Ten contest.

UI freshman phenom Melsahn Basabe had another fantastic outing. He registered a double-double racking up 20 points while also hauling in 13 boards.

“Best big man on the floor today without question, and that’s saying a lot considering who they have up front,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “I’m really proud of him. But I think the challenge for him now is what do you do next game, and the game after that. He’s capable of this type of performance every night, and that’s what we’re looking for, and I think that’s what we’re going to see.”

Eric May also chipped in 16 for the Hawkeyes, Matt Gatens scored 13 points, and Bryce Cartwright netted 10 points. They were the only four Iowa players to score on the night.

Basabe got Iowa on the board early with an up-fake on the right elbow and took it to the rim drawing contact and knocking down the contested layup. The score tied the game 2-2 with just over a minute gone by.

Later May reached in and poked the ball free from the defender and got out into the open court. May threw down a thunderous dunk on the other end and was fouled in the process. May made the free throw and converted the and-one opportunity, making the score 12-9 in favor of Minnesota with 11:20 remaining.

However Iowa went nearly five minutes without scoring before Gatens broke the drought. He pulled up and launched a deep 3-pointer in transition that found nothing but net to make the score 16-14 with 7:24 left. Minnesota answered though with back to back dunks and forced Iowa to call timeout with 6:26 left and the score 20-14. The dunks sparked a 14-0 run by Minnesota.

Gatens answered for Iowa though with another 3-pointer, snapping the Minnesota streak making the score 17-29 with 2:04 left in the half.

Iowa went into the break trailing 30-19.

The second half saw a different Iowa team in the first. Iowa used a huge 16-4 run to open the second half that included Iowa scoring the first nine points of the half. Basabe scored the final three points off a three-point play on a nifty up-and-under move, and then converted the free throw.

Iowa took its first lead of game thanks to an Eric May trifecta from the top of the key that gave Iowa a 35-34 advantage with 15:20 left in the game. The 3-pointer from May capped the 16-4 run from Iowa to open the second half. Minnesota responded to take the lead again before Basabe worked his moves in the post again.

Basabe faced up at the top of the elbow, pivoted left and drove the ball strong right. Basabe was fouled but hit the contested shot any way, converting another three-point play for Iowa giving Iowa a 40-27 lead with 14:00 remaining. However Iowa hit a rough stretch after grabbing a lead, and went over five minutes before scoring its next field goal.

Basabe snapped a 12-2 Minnesota run by grabbing a Cartwright miss and putting it back in for two, cutting the Minnesota lead to 52-44 with 8:54 left in the contest.

Again the Iowa offense hit a few potholes, and went four minutes without a field goal, allowing Minnesota to gain stretch the deficit to 60-46 with 4:54 remaining.

However, two 3-pointers by May and one by Gatens in the matter of a little over a minute brought Iowa to within seven points 62-55 with two minutes left making Minnesota earn every second of the victory.

“It came apart a little bit for us, but didn’t let it get away from us,” said McCaffery. “That’s the key when you’re on the road. I couldn’t be more proud how we kept coming.”

Iowa could get no closer than six points for the remainder of the game, and Minnesota won 69-59.

Even in defeat coach McCaffery was pleased with the fight and effort from his team though.

“I’m really happy with what we did,” McCaffery said. “I think we took a positive step today and that’s the important thing.”

Iowa travels to Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday to take on the No. 2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

No. 25 Minnesota 69, Iowa 59 1st 2nd Final
Iowa (7-10, 0-5) 19 40 59
No. 25 Minnesota (14-4, 3-3) 30 39 69
Statistical Leaders
Points: Melsahn Basabe (Iowa) 20 | Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota) 16
Rebounds: Melsahn Basabe (Iowa) 13 | Trevor Mbakwe (Minnesota) 12
Assists: Bryce Cartwright (Iowa) 5 | Ralph Sampson III, Blake Hoffarber (Minnesota) 4