March 20, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Second-seeded Villanova rode a 54-point first half to cruise to an 87-68 victory over the seventh-seeded University of Iowa men’s basketball team in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center.
The Wildcats shot 60.6 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and made 7-of-12 3 point field goals to score the most points in a half in a game in an NCAA Tournament game in school history.
Villanova was equally as impressive defensively, limiting Iowa to 40 percent shooting and forcing eight first-half turnovers. Iowa had three turnovers in its First Round victory over Temple.
After playing to a 13 all tie over the first 6 1/2 minutes, the Wildcats reeled off eight straight points to build a 21-13 lead with 11:53 left. Villanova stretched its lead to double digits on a Phil Booth 3-pointer at the eight-minute mark before the Wildcats delivered a haymaker.
Villanova took advantage of turnover after turnover and made Iowa pay, scoring 23 of the final 31 points to take a 54-29 lead into the locker room. The 54 points were the most the Hawkeyes allowed in a half this season.
“We didn’t come out with the intensity defensively that we needed to against a team like that,” said senior Mike Gesell. “They’re a team that is unselfish and they play within themselves.”
After falling behind by as many as 34 (65-31), the Hawkeyes competed. Iowa outscored the Wildcats, 39-33, in the second half. A 3-pointer from senior Jarrod Uthoff and five straight points from senior Anthony Clemmons cut the deficit to 82-66 with 1:44 left.
Redshirt freshman Nicholas Baer was one of Iowa’s bright spots in the game, scoring 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Uthoff led the team with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while junior Peter Jok scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds.
The Hawkeyes finished with a 45.0 field goal percentage and made 7-of-24 attempts from 3-point range.
Villanova shot 59.3 percent for the game, making 32-of-52 field goals, including 10 3 pointers. The Wildcats had an 18-0 advantage in fast-break points, outscored Iowa, 36-26, in the paint, and assisted on 23 of their 32 field goals.
Four of the Wildcats’ five starters reached double digits with Josh Hart leading the way with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Ryan Arcidiacono (16 points), Kris Jenkins (15 points), and Jalen Brunson (12 points) also reached double figures, while Daniel Ochefu had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Iowa finishes the 2015-16 season with a 22-11 record.
“I’m proud of my guys, the way we handled ourselves all season,” said Gesell. “The season is a grind. There are a lot of ups and downs during the season, and we kept plugging along, working hard every day, and getting better every day.
“We have a bright future here at Iowa. We have a lot of young guys that play the game the right way and they’re a close knit group. I’m going to be excited to continue to watch them next and over the years.”