By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team erased a 13-point second-half deficit, but No. 25 Maryland closed out the game with a 15-4 run to hand the Hawkeyes an 84-76 loss Thursday night on Mediacom Court.
The defeat snaps Iowa’s seven-game home-court winning streak and drops the team’s record to 11-9 overall and 3-4 in Big Ten play. Maryland is 17-2, 5-1 — atop the conference standings.
The Hawkeye reserves led the charge in the comeback.
“We had a different lineup in there and they were tremendous,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery.
Trailing 54-41, freshman Ryan Kriener started the rally with a jumper at the 13:02 mark before sophomore Ahmad Wagner used an old-fashion three-point play to trim the deficit to 54-48. A Kriener steal led to a Brady Ellingson 3-pointer from the corner, making the score 54-51 with 11:12 to play.
“I was trying to bring effort and energy to the team,” said Wagner, who scored 10 second-half points. “We were sluggish at the beginning, so I tried to come in and bring energy.”
Iowa fought all the way back to tie the game at 63 when Peter Jok drove and dished to Cordell Pemsl for an uncontested layup, evening the score with 6:38 to play.
“I am proud of our guys, the way they fought back,” said McCaffery. “But Maryland did a good job of answering our runs with timely baskets.”
The Hawkeyes took their first lead on a Wagner free throw with 5:18 to play, and Iowa led 72-69 with 3:19 left. That’s when the Terrapins’ Melo Trimble took over.
The junior made a 3-pointer at the 3-minute mark to tie the game at 72 and he connected again from long distance 31 seconds later to give the Terrapins a 75-72 lead.
Iowa trailed 77-72 with 2:07 to play when Jordan Bohannon came away with a steal, leading to a Jok layup with 53.3 seconds remaining, making it a one-possession game. Iowa’s full-court pressure got the trap on Trimble out of the in-bounds, but Jok was whistled for a foul. Trimble made two free throws to extend the lead to 79-74.
The Hawkeyes stayed in the game by capitalizing to the tune of 30 points off 21 Maryland turnovers. The Terrapins overcame their mistakes by shooting 56.6 percent from the floor and making 11 3-pointers.
Iowa shot just 35.7 percent and went 7-of-28 from 3-point range, and out-rebounded Maryland, 40-37, which included a 14-rebound advantage on the offensive glass. The Hawkeyes had a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points.
Five of Wagner’s six rebounds in the game were offensive. He finished with 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting and made 6-of-8 free throws. Jok led Iowa with 14 points, but only scored two in the second half when he was slowed by injury. Bohannon added 11 points and five assists.
“When Ahmad plays like that, he can be a special player,” said sophomore Nicholas Baer. “The thing I was most proud of him tonight was his free throw shooting, going 6-of-8 from the line, those were critical for us.”
Iowa got off to a sluggish start, falling behind 8-0 to start the game. The Hawkeyes closed to within 13-10 at the 14:54 mark before enduring a 5-plus minute stretch without a point and an 8:20 field goal drought. It allowed the Terrapins to build a 15-point first-half advantage.
“It was just energy, we came out slow again just like the Northwestern game,” said freshman Cordell Pemsl. “The energy level was the difference between the first half and second half.”
The Hawkeyes found life in the final five minutes of the first half, closing the gap to 37-30 on an Isaiah Moss layup with 1:53 remaining. Iowa trailed 41-32 at the break.
Five Maryland players finished in double figures in the game, including a game-high 20 points from Trimble. He scored nine of the team’s final 15 points. Justin Jackson had 12 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and six steals.
Iowa has its first bye this weekend before returning to action Jan. 25 at Illinois.
“This will give us a lot of time to work on us, instead of having to focus on other opponents,” said Baer. “Having a week to work on ourselves and fix some things we need to fix will be good for us and we’ll utilize it to get better.”