By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – This time there was no improbable comeback or incredible buzzer-beater for the Iowa men’s basketball team.
No. 24 Maryland made sure of that on Tuesday by withstanding another furious Hawkeye comeback to prevail 66-65 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Junior point guard Jordan Bohannon made two free throws that gave Iowa a 65-64 lead with 18.8 seconds left to play.
Maryland then answered with a tip-in by sophomore forward Bruno Fernando with 7.8 seconds remaining.
Iowa called a timeout and found itself in the all-too familiar position of having to try to win on another buzzer beater.
However, Bohannon’s shot from 3-point range hit the front of the rim and Isaiah Moss’ put-back at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
"We just ran a play that we've had ever since I got here to try to ge me freed up a little bit," said Bohannon, who made a 3-pointer to defeat Northwestern on Feb. 10 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. "I thought I got fouled on the play, but there is not much you can do about it.
"Isaiah got a put-back. But my mindset was I was just trying to get a shot up to try and extend the game as much as possible."
Maryland ended Iowa’s four-game winning streak and improved to 20-7 overall and 11-5 in the Big Ten. The Terrapins also ended a 19-game losing streak on the road against ranked opponents under head coach Mark Turgeon.
Turgeon told reporters after the game that he wasn't aware of the losing streak.
"I got some texts today saying we were going to break the streak," Turgeon said. "I had no idea what they were talking about."
Iowa fell to 20-6 overall and 9-6 in the Big Ten and now has just two days to prepare for Friday’s game against Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"In a game like this when it's a struggle offensively you just want to hang in there and give yourself a chance, and that's what we did," said Iowa coach Fran McCaffery.
What Iowa struggled to do more than anything is make shots that it normally makes. Iowa only made 19-of-58 field-goal attempts, including 8-of-26 from 3-point range.
"Shots that normally would go in by good shooters weren't going in," Fran McCaffery said.
Junior forward Tyler Cook and sophomore center Luka Garza were held to six and five points, respectively.
Garza was especially hard on himself after the game.
"I didn't help my team tonight," said Garza, who only made 1-of-7 shots from the field. "That's always tough in a close game. There is so much more that I could have done."
The Hawkeyes have all but clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but Tuesday’s loss could come back to haunt Iowa with regard to seeding for the Big Dance.
Maryland was leading 60-53 when Bohannon made three consecutive free throws with 3 minutes, 41 seconds remaining.
Freshman Joe Wieskamp then made two free throws with 3:16 left to play and Nicholas Baer followed with a 3-point basket that gave Iowa a 61-60 lead with 2:35 left to play.
The two free throws were the only points that Wieskamp scored in Tuesday’s game, but his teammates were there to pick up the slack.
Iowa used nine players in Tuesday’s game and everyone except for Wieskamp scored at least five points.
To say that the first half was a struggle for both teams offensively would be putting it mildly.
Maryland led 27-23 at the break despite only making 8-of-26 field-goal attempts and despite having a 23-17 disadvantage on the boards.
The Terrapins couldn’t buy a basket from 3-point range until freshman Aaron Wiggins made a trey that gave them a 15-14 lead with 7:25 left in the first half.
His basket was the first of six consecutive 3-pointers that Maryland made to close out the first half.
Iowa missed eight of its 10 shots from 3-point range in the first half, and also played without freshman Joe Wieskamp for the final 14 minutes of the half after he picked two early fouls.
So you could say that Iowa was fortunate to trail by just four points at halftime after having shot so poorly from 3-point range.
But as you know from watching this Hawkeye team, it’s not over until the final buzzer sounds and there was another half to play.
You figured it would be only a matter of time before Bohannon and his cohorts started making some shots from 3-point range because hardly ever do the struggle for an entire game.
Bohannon only attempted two shots in the first half and made one of them – a 3-pointer that gave Iowa a 17-15 lead with 6:24 left before halftime.
Junior forward Tyler Cook also was held to just two points in the first half on two field-goal attempts.
The second half didn’t start any better for Iowa as it fell behind 35-27 before a timeout was called with 15:01 left to play.
Cook still had scored just two points at that stage, while Wieskamp hadn’t scored a single point.
It wasn’t time to panic with 15 minutes still remaining, and with Iowa’s ability to score points in a hurry.
But it was time to start chipping away at the lead before it was too late.
Iowa made back-to-back baskets that trimmed the deficit to 42-34 with 12 minutes remaining, but the Terrapins answered with a 3-pointer by Darryl Morsel to push the lead back to double figures.
The Hawkeyes kept chipping away at the lead and had a chance to win on another buzzer beater as it did at Rutgers this past Saturday when Wieskamp baned in a 3-point shot from the baseline.
But this time, it just wasn't meant to be.