Nov. 27, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — It was déjà vu for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team in a 68-62 loss to No. 17 Notre Dame at the Advocare Invitational.
The Hawkeyes traded baskets with the Fighting Irish early, fell behind by 17 points in the first half and trailed 39-27 at the break. Iowa upped its defensive intensity and the offense followed, fighting back to take a second half lead.
Iowa trailed 46-31 with 16:26 remaining. Six minutes later, the Hawkeyes grabbed a 47-46 lead on an Adam Woodbury jumper with 10:06 to play, capping off a 16-0 run.
“Defensively in the second half, we were up in them, active, made things happen, and our energy level was where it needed to be,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “Once we took the lead, it was disappointing we weren’t able to close it out with more stops.”
Notre Dame ended its scoring drought with a Demetrius Jackson jumper to take a 48-47 lead with 9:42 remaining. The Fighting Irish never trailed again.
Iowa pulled to within 54-53 with 3:57 remaining; Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia answered with a 3-pointer 29 seconds later, pushing the lead to 57-53. It was the first of four straight possessions with a field goal, helping Notre Dame push its lead to 63-55 with 1:27 left.
“This was similar to last night’s game,” said McCaffery. “We missed a bunch of shots early, the offense wasn’t clicking and the defense wasn’t what it needed to be. At halftime, we had to get it figured out and we ratcheted up the defensive intensity, got some stops, and took the momentum.
“We proceeded to let them score for 4-5 straight possessions. That’s what’s disappointing. We fought hard enough to win this game and did enough good stuff to be in a position to win, but we couldn’t close it out.”
The Hawkeyes shot 37.9 percent for the game, settling too often for 3-pointers. Iowa made 6-of-24 attempts from 3-point range and was just 6-of-9 from the free throw stripe. Notre Dame shot 45.5 percent from the field and went 8-of-25 from 3-point range. Iowa won the rebounding battle, 40-36.
“We have to mix it up better with drives and post feeds; we didn’t do that,” said McCaffery. “We kept jacking. That helped us get back in to the game, but then we missed a few more. We need to diversify our offense a little more.”
Senior Jarrod Uthoff paced the team with 20 points, making 8-of-16 field goals, and had eight rebounds. Woodbury posted his third career double-double, finishing with 14 points and 10 boards. He was 7-of-9 from the field. Senior Mike Gesell scored 14 and had nine assists.
Iowa’s starters accounted for 59 of the team’s 62 points.
Five Notre Dame players reached double figures with V.J. Beachem leading the way with 16 points.
The Hawkeyes will have a day off Saturday before facing No. 20 Wichita State in the seventh-place game at 9 a.m. (CT) Sunday.
“We’re going to learn from the last two games,” said junior Peter Jok. “We’re going to get better from them.”