By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa freshmen Cordell Pemsl and Isaiah Moss tallied career-highs in a 95-68 rout of Stetson on Monday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win snaps the Hawkeyes’ four-game losing streak and improves the team’s record to 4-5 heading into Thursday’s Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup against Iowa State.
“(This win) was much needed, we haven’t won in a while,” said Pemsl, who is one of seven Division I players in the last 20 years to shoot 77 percent or better through nine career games. “It was fun to get this under our belt and get to enjoy this tonight. We come back tomorrow and start working for Thursday.”
Pemsl scored 21 points, making 9-of-11 field goals and tied for the team-high with eight rebounds. Moss made 8-of-13 field goals, including five 3-pointers, en route to a 21-point output. He also had six rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes.
“I had a lot of confidence in my 3 tonight,” said Moss. “Coach told me to keep shooting, so I did.”
Three different Iowa freshmen — Pemsl, Moss, and Jordan Bohannon — have scored 20 or more points in a game this season.
“It’s very encouraging,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “We have a young team and the thought process was those guys have to produce for us to be good. We can only count on Pete to do so much.”
Pete, as in senior Peter Jok, finished with 15 points on a night where he made just 4-of-13 attempts, but he had eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists.
“It was great to see Pete on a night that he’s not making shots have seven assists and no turnovers,” said McCaffery. “That’s big time.”
Iowa stormed out to a 9-0 lead over the first three minutes behind five points from sophomore Ahmad Wagner, who was making his first career start. The Hawkeyes led 14-2 and 18-4 over the game’s first six minutes.
“We were a lot better defensively out of the gate,” said Bohannon. “We had a lot of energy and were communicating well. It’s huge for us to start off that way.”
The Hawkeyes stretched their advantage to 21 points on a Wagner layup with 4:42 left in the first half before the defense had a short lapse. The Hatters made back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the deficit to 13 (35-22) and force an Iowa timeout. The Hawkeyes led 44-28 at the break.
Iowa built its lead to 20 points two minutes into the second half, but the Hawkeyes took a collective deep breath when Wagner balled up in pain after landing awkwardly while trying to grab an offensive rebound.
“I was really scared because he’s not a drama guy,” said McCaffery. “It scared him because he jumped so high and landed so awkwardly, but they took him back and tested everything; he’ll be fine.”
Baer provided the highlight of the game at the 12-minute mark with a driving, one-handed flush that made the score 68-49. The Iowa rout was on.
After surrendering more than 90 points in three consecutive games, McCaffery said Iowa’s defense was as good as it has been all season in the first half where it limited Stetson to 11 field goals and 29.7 percent shooting.
“Defensively in the first half, I am not sure we can play much better,” said McCaffery. “We’re up 16 and we missed nine free throws. In the second half we were a little lax with our ball screen defense, recovery, and rotations and got a little complacent with a 20-point lead. We can’t do that.
“But our activity level and productivity from a lot of different people was impressive.”
The Hawkeyes held the Hatters to 34.7 percent shooting for the game, were plus nine on the glass and had 23 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds.
Iowa attacked the rim offensively, which led to a 50-20 advantage in points in the paint, and took care of the basketball, committing a season-low five turnovers in the game. The Hawkeyes assisted on 21 of their 36 field goals.
Derick Newton led Stetson with 12 points; he entered the game averaging 18 per game.
The Hawkeyes (4-5) return to action Thursday, hosting No. 25 Iowa State in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. Game time is set for 7 p.m. (CT).