By JAMES ALLAN
MINNEAPOLIS — Sophomores Isaiah Moss and Ryan Kriener posted career-highs, but the University of Iowa men’s basketball team’s spirited rally fell four points short Wednesday night at Williams Arena.
Minnesota saw a 20-point first half lead dwindle all the way down to two points in the waning moments of the game, but the Gopher eeked out an 86-82 victory.
After scoring 19 points in the first half, Iowa’s offense went berserk in the second half, scoring 63 points to make it a game. The Hawkeyes trailed 10 points with 52 seconds left before Moss scored 11 points and Luka Garza had a three-point play to close the gap to 84-82 with three seconds remaining.
Iowa nearly got a five-second count as Minnesota barely got the ball in bounds, before Davonte Fitzgerald made both free throws to ice the Gopher victory.
The Hawkeyes fell behind by a lot early in the contest when Minnesota used a 19-0 run to build a 22-2 lead nine minutes in. Iowa had eight turnovers in the first nine minutes.
Iowa responded with a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 22-13 and the defense stiffened, allowing nine points for the remainder of the half. The problem, Iowa only scored six points and found itself trailing 31-19 following a Nate Mason to Jordan Murphy alley-oop to end the half.
“Once we settled down and mixed our fast break, motion, and set plays and moved the ball and shared the offense, I thought OK, we’ll get back into this, and we did,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “I was proud of the way we fought after that.”
After both offenses struggled in the first half, the second 20 minutes was a track meet. The two teams combined to score 118 points and both shot better than 55 percent from the field. Iowa made 25-of-41 field goals to shoot 61 percent, while Minnesota went 15-of-27, shooting 55.6 percent.
The difference in the game was at the free throw line where Minnesota made 23-of-35 attempts; Iowa was 9-of-17. The Gophers also made four more 3-point field goals (9 to 5).
Moss finished with a career-best 32 points with 26 coming in the second half. He made 12-of-18 field goals and four 3-pointers. Garza finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, and Kriener scored a career-high 15 points, all of which came in the second half. He made 7-of-11 field goals in just 14 minutes.
Mason led four Gophers in double figures with 33 points on Senior Night. He made 11-of-19 field goals and dished out six assists.
MOSS SCORES IN A HURRY
Moss poured in a career-high 32 points with 19 coming in the final 1:36. It’s a high water scoring output by a Hawkeye this season, surpassing Jordan Bohannon’s 30-point game against UAB. Moss’ 12 field goals are also the most by an Iowa player this season.
“He has the ability to (score quickly),” said McCaffery. “When you have a guy that is 6-foot-5, can get to the rim, he has pull-up game, and 3-point game and he’s quick. I always encourage him to go. You go get buckets that’s what you go and do. He was impressive tonight.”
- Kriener scored all 15 points in an eight-minute stretch in the second half, including scoring six straight Iowa points and 9-of-11 at one stretch.
- After committing eight turnovers in the first nine minutes, Iowa only had four turnovers the rest of the way.
- The Hawkeyes out-rebounded Minnesota, 42-36, and they turned 14 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points.
Iowa will play its regular season home finale on Sunday against Northwestern. Tipoff is set for 6:37 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tickets for Sunday’s game are available at hawkeyesports.com/tickets. Iowa’s two seniors Charlie Rose and Dom Uhl will be honored prior to the game.