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By JAMES ALLAN
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team dug itself an early hole and it couldn’t recover, as it suffered its first loss of season — 80-71 to Louisiana — on Monday in the opening round of the Cayman Island Classic.
The Rajin’ Cajuns shot 51.6 percent in the first half and limited the Hawkeyes to seven field goals. Iowa committed 10 first-half turnovers and it found itself trailing 37-17 at the break.
“There were a lot of shots that went in-and-out of the basket,” said sophomore Jordan Bohannon. “That was frustrating because we were getting open looks and those are shots that we are normally hitting. The ball was halfway in the basketball and popped out and we were missing layups.”
With the score tied at 10 at the 11:21 mark, Louisiana took control with a 21-1 run over a seven-minute span to take a 31-11 lead. Iowa trailed by as many as 24 points (44-20) early in the second half before beginning to chip away.
Utilizing a 2-3 zone, the Hawkeyes methodically trimmed into the Louisiana lead. Every time Iowa would threaten to get the margin to single digits, the Rajin’ Cajuns had an answer.
The Hawkeyes closed to with 14 points with 12:53 to play and they had it within 12 at the 10-minute mark. Two Isaiah Moss free throws trimmed the deficit to 62-51 with 5:27 remaining and climbed to within nine with 1:52 left on a Moss 3-pointer.
“We have to come ready to play,” said Bohannon. “The second half is how we need to play from now on.”
Iowa shot 36.7 percent from the field and went 6-of-19 from 3-point range. The Rajin’ Cajuns finished with a 49.2 field goal percentage and had 25 assists on its 30 field goals.
Moss paced the Hawkeyes with a career-best 24 points, but he made just 6-of-17 field goals. The guard went 10-for-10 from the free throw stripe. Bohannon was the only other Hawkeye in double figures, finishing with 21 points with four 3-pointers.
Louisiana had four players in double digits with Frank Bartley IV leading the way with 17 points.
QUOTING IOWA HEAD COACH FRAN MCCAFFERY
“We fought, played, and executed better in the second half. There was a lot of good stuff in the second half, but not much good in the first half. You have to give them credit.
“We missed 20 shots in the first half; you have to get more than three back (offensive rebounds). Give them credit for their defense. We didn’t get long rebounds or put backs. If you keep it at 15, 14, 13, as opposed to 20 (it’s a different game). Twenty points is a lot to overcome.”
- Moss scored 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half, while Bohannon netted 18 of his 21 points in the final 20 minutes.
- Iowa’s starting front court finished with six points — all by Tyler Cook. Luka Garza and Ahmad Wagner were held scoreless, going 0-for-3 from the field.
- After finishing with 20 or more assists in the first three games, Iowa had 10 assists against the Rajin’ Cajuns. The Hawkeyes had 15 turnovers in the game.
- Iowa made a season-best 80.8 percent of its free throw attempts, going 21-of-26 from the charity stripe.
- Ryan Kriener played a career-high 26 minutes. The sophomore forward had team bests in assists (2), steals (2), and blocked shots (1) before fouling out late in the game.
- Louisiana outscored Iowa, 48-26, in the paint.
The Hawkeyes return to action Tuesday, facing South Dakota State at 11 a.m. (CT).