Nov. 26, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It wasn’t because of a lack of fight, but the University of Iowa men’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the 2015-16 season, falling 82-77 to Dayton on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Advocare Invitational.
The Hawkeyes trailed by 14 points early in the second half and 69-59 with 8:15 remaining before clawing their way back.
Iowa buckled down defensively to spark an 11-0 run, giving the Hawkeyes a 70-69 lead with under four minutes to play. A pair of reserves keyed the run; Nicholas Baer’s jumper started things off before Brady Ellingson’s 3-pointer at the 3:49 mark gave Iowa its first lead since midway through the first half.
“We got a little sideways, turning the ball over a couple of times at the beginning of the second half and they pushed their lead from six to 13,” said senior Mike Gesell. “A couple of guys got hot and we got big stops. We were trying to get consecutive stops, and that’s what allowed us to come back.”
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 75-71 with 2:35 remaining on a Gesell 3-pointer, but Dayton had an answer. Charles Cooke rattled in a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to one before Scoochie Smith made a contested layup to give the Flyers a 76-75 with 1:25 to play.
“They made some big plays,” said Gesell. “Scoochie made some big layups. There are a few times in a game like this that determine whether you win or lose.”
Iowa regained the lead on a pair of Adam Woodbury free throws with a minute left, but Cooke capitalized on a touch foul and connected on two free throws with 50 seconds to put Dayton back on top.
After a missed 3-pointer from Uthoff, Smith created and capitalized again, banking home a layup high over Hawkeye defenders late in the shot clock to push the lead to 80-77 with 13 seconds to play.
Junior Peter Jok’s off-balance 3-point attempt with four seconds left was off the mark, and Cooke made two late free throws to seal the victory.
“The last 14 minutes, our execution offensively was tremendous,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “I was proud of our guys for how they managed the game and clock and we were able to get the lead.
“We were up four after being down 14. We got some great looks again, but didn’t convert, and they did. You have to give them credit.”
Iowa’s defense didn’t have an answer for Dayton’s dribble penetration. The Flyers shot 49.1 percent from the field and outscored Iowa 34-14 in the paint for the game. Dayton went 21-of-27 from the free throw stripe; Iowa was 11-of-17.
The Hawkeyes finished with a 43.5 field goal percentage and made 12-of-24 3-point field goals. Iowa had 19 assists on its 27 field goals and committed 12 turnovers, but Dayton won the rebounding battle, 39-33.
Uthoff paced the Hawkeyes with 18 points, making 6-of-15 field goals, including four 3-pointers. Jok scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Anthony Clemmons scored 11 points and had six assists.
Iowa played all but two minutes of the first half without starting point guard Mike Gesell because of foul trouble. Uthoff and Jok kept Iowa in the game, combining for 25 first half points. The Hawkeyes trailed 45-39 at the half.
“Our offense didn’t move smoothly in the first half, which put us in transition a lot,” said McCaffery. “We were back on our heels and hung in there.”
Dayton stormed out of the locker room with a 7-0 run to start the second half, and three Kyle Davis free throws gave the Flyers a 55-41 advantage with 18:21 to play.
“We got a little trigger happy early in the second half,” said McCaffery. “We didn’t make good decisions for a while. From there we slowed it down and had to be patient. If we didn’t, we were on our way to a 15-point loss.”
Cooke scored a game-high 22 points, making 7-of-12 field goals, including four 3-pointers. Kendall Pollard and Kyle Davis added 16 apiece, and Smith scored 11 points and had seven assists.
Iowa (3-1) returns to action at 6 p.m. (CT) Friday against No. 17/18 Notre Dame in the consolation bracket. The Fighting Irish dropped a 70-68 quarterfinal game to Monmouth.