By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It wasn’t always pretty, but the end result was a fourth straight win for the University of Iowa men’s basketball team.
The Hawkeyes had three players reach double figures in an 84-73 victory over North Dakota on Tuesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is 7-5 overall heading into Thursday’s nonconference finale against Delaware State.
“Overall, it was ugly, but a win is a win,” said senior Peter Jok.
The Hawkeyes shot 46.7 percent from the field, had 17 assists to 10 turnovers, and made 23-of-34 free throws in the game. North Dakota was 12-of-14 from the free throw stripe and shot 41.5 percent from the field, but the Fighting Hawks had 16 turnovers, including 12 in the first half.
Jok and freshman Jordan Bohannon paced Iowa with 18 points apiece. North Dakota’s aggressive defense limited Jok to 4-of-15 shooting, but he made all 10 of his free throws, grabbed eight rebounds, and had a team-high four assists.
“That’s the way they wanted to play the game,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “They wanted Pete to shoot 4-for-15. They were face guarding him, switching, doubling… they were banging him.
“That’s why he got 10 free throws, and it’s why he missed 11 shots. If you weigh it from their side, you say, ‘OK, if we can hold Pete to 4-of-15, we’ll probably win the game. Well, we shot 34 free throws because it was that physical.”
Bohannon made 5-of-9 shots from the floor and went 6-of-8 from the free throw line, while freshman Cordell Pemsl, who didn’t start the game after being late for a pregame shoot-around, had nine points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
“I knew he’d respond, he’s a great kid,” said McCaffery. “I was not happy because when you have a team that is sort of putting it together, those are the kinds of distractions you don’t need. He has to understand that.”
Iowa took control of the game in the first half, using a 16-0 run to open a 37-18 lead. Sophomore Ahmad Wagner had three dunks during the span, including a steal and flush that pushed the lead to 33-18 and his third dunk capped Iowa’s spurt.
North Dakota’s carelessness with the basketball was the difference in the first half. The Hawkeyes forced 12 turnovers over the first 20 minutes, turning the miscues into 16 points. Iowa led 41-30 at the break.
“It was a hard fought game,” said UND head coach Brian Jones. “They got to us in the first half. We had 12 turnovers at the half and it led to 16 points. That was the separation they got in the first half.”
The Fighting Hawks closed the deficit to seven points twice in the second half. The first came on back-to-back 3-pointers from Quinton Hooker and Josh Collins, making the score 45-38 with 16:21 to play.
Iowa proceeded to push its advantage to 14 two minutes later and the lead was 62-47 with 12:06 to play, but North Dakota was pesky.
With 10 minutes left, North Dakota trimmed its deficit to nine points on a Geno Crandall dunk and the margin was 64-57 with 9:16 to play.
“If we could have made some shots or got a couple of shots to fall down the stretch when we were down seven, hopefully we could have made it more interesting in the end,” said Jones. “I give them a lot of credit; they have a lot of poise.”
Jok followed with four straight points to push the lead to 11 and Iowa led by 16 points with four minutes to play.
North Dakota had four players finish in double figures with Hooker leading the way with 18 points. Drick Bernstine had 10 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists.
“This is a really good team,” said McCaffery of North Dakota. “I think the way they challenged us will help us because they’re big and strong, and it was a physical game like we’re going to see in the Big Ten. It’s good that you play games like that this time of year.”
Thursday’s nonconference finale will begin at 8:06 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised live on BTN.