Nov. 14, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior Matt Gatens led a group of five Hawkeyes in double figures, scoring a career-high 27 points, to lead the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to a 95-79 victory over North Carolina A&T on Monday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes are 2-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
“It was a good team effort,” said Gatens, whose previous career high of 25 points came against Indiana during his sophomore season. “We played well offensively. We have to tighten some things up on defense.
“We gave up too many points in the first half and the second half. The final score ended up being 79, that’s too many for us to be giving up. It’s great to see the offense pushing it up toward 100 again. We’re getting close.”
Iowa shot 49.3 percent (33-of-67) from the floor, which included nine 3-pointers. Gatens made 9-of-15 shot attempts and four 3-pointers en route to his 27 point total. Junior Eric May tied a career-best with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Sophomore Melsahn Basabe tallied the seventh double-double of his career, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and senior Bryce Cartwright and sophomore Zach McCabe both had 12 points.
“I thought we got some big-time performances out of our experienced guys in the second half,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Our younger guys learned a lesson. That’s what it’s all about, just getting better.”
Leading 50-34 at the half, the Hawkeyes used a 10-0 spurt to extend their advantage to 26 (60-34) early in the second frame. Basabe scored eight of the 10 points, including a thunderous dunk on a secondary break on crisp passes from May-to-Gatens-to-Basabe.
“The way we started the second half I thought was critical,” said McCaffery. “The thing about this team (UNCAT) is they’re going to keep coming.”
The Aggies rallied the troops, and their shots started falling. Guard Nic Simpson drained three 3-pointers during a four-minute stretch to help North Carolina A&T pull to within 14 with 7:26 left in the game. The Aggies had it at 14 a total of three times with final coming at 80-66 on a R.J. Buck tip-in.
May opened the game strong, scoring eight points in the first four minutes, as Iowa built an 18-6 advantage at the 13:32 mark. The Hawkeyes then pushed their lead to 28-12 on back-to-back 3-pointers by McCabe and Roy Devyn Marble with 9:32 to go in the half.
Iowa continued its brisk pace hitting the 40-point mark on a May long ball with 4:36 left in the half. Gatens netted the final five points for Iowa on a second chance lay-up and 3-pointer, as the Hawkeyes took a 50-34 lead into the locker room.
Iowa shot 45 percent (18-40) from the floor and Gatens (15), May (11) and McCabe (10) combined for 36 of Iowa’s 50 points.
Senior Andrew Brommer made his season debut after missing the early portion of the season with a knee injury. He played six minutes before re-straining his injured knee.
“He hurt his knee the same way, so that’s not good,” said McCaffery. “It will be day-to-day. I felt bad for him because he worked really hard to get back, and I thought he played pretty well when he was in there.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Thursday night, hosting Northern Illinois at 7 p.m.