April 4, 2013
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NEW YORK — It was the most inopportune time for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team to have an off shooting night.
The Hawkeyes tied a season-low with a 26.1 field goal percentage (18-of-69) in a 74-54 loss to Baylor in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
After trailing 27-22 at the half, senior Eric May scored five of the first six points of the second half to cut the Bear lead to 28-27. Baylor followed with an 11-2 spurt to build a 39-29 advantage with 14:47 remaining.
“We go into halftime, and we’re only down five, and I don’t think we played well at all,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We cut it to one, but it felt like we kept missing easy shots.
“The stat the jumps out to me is we had 20 offensive rebounds against this team. That’s effort and special. That should have equated to more success offensively. Instead we shot 27 percent in the second half and didn’t have the attention to detail.”
Freshman Mike Gesell’s three-point play with 12:32 remaining cut the deficit to single digits at 42-34, but the Bears broke the game open with a 16-3 run to open a 58-37 lead with 7:08 remaining.
Baylor shot 54.2 percent (26-of-48) from the floor and made 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) attempts from 3-point range and 18-of-23 attempts from the free throw stripe. Iowa attempted 21 more shots, but made eight fewer field goals. The Bears had a 36-18 advantage in paint points and a 14-4 edge in points off turnovers.
“Baylor got up into us and their length bothered us at the rim,” said McCaffery. “It forced us to settle for too many jump shots. We’re more of a driving team, and we get to the free throw line more typically, and we just didn’t do that tonight.”
Gesell paced the Hawkeyes, scoring 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Sophomore Aaron White finished with 12 points and six rebounds, and May had eight points, making 3-of-9 field goals before fouling out in his final collegiate game.
Iowa’s leading scorer Roy Devyn Marble finished with six points on 3-of-12 shooting, 18 points below his season NIT scoring average. Marble was selected to the NIT All-Tournament team after scoring 103 points (20.3 average) in five games.
Forward Cory Jefferson led a trio of Bears in double digits, netting 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Senior guard Pierre Jackson scored 17 points and had 10 assists and freshman Isaiah Austin scored 15 points, making 6-of-7 attempts.
Marble opened the game’s scoring with a jumper to give Iowa a 2-0 lead — its only lead of the game — before Baylor reeled off nine straight points to take a 9-2 advantage and force a Hawkeye timeout. Iowa followed with a 7-2 spurt to cut the deficit to 11-9 behind a 3-pointer by Anthony Clemmons and a jumper by White.
Austin followed with a three-point play to make the score 14-9 and an A.J. Walton steal and fast-break dunk pushed the Baylor advantage to 16-10. Iowa cut the lead to 20-17 on a Josh Oglesby 3-pointer with 6:46 left in the half before a Walton jumper and two Jackson free throws made it a 24-17 with 5:12 remaining.
Iowa, which shot 25.9 percent (7-of-27) over the opening 20 minutes, trailed 27-22 at the break. Baylor made 11-of-26 attempts (42.3 percent) and had a 16-6 advantage in points in the paint in the first half.
The Hawkeyes finish the 2012-13 season with a 25-13 record, the second most victories in school history.