By Pat Harty
The Iowa men’s basketball team finally met a challenge that it couldn’t overcome against Maryland on Thursday.
The combination of playing on the road against one of the Big Ten’s best teams, and with star center Luka Garza being in foul trouble, proved too much to overcome as Iowa had its five-game winning streak come to end with an 82-72 loss at the Xfinity Center in College Park, MD.
The score had been close until Maryland went on a 10-0 scoring run in the second half to expand its lead to 62-49.
The Terrapins then spent the rest of the game withstanding several mini Iowa runs and improved to 17-4 overall, 7-3 in the Big Ten and 12-0 at home.
No. 18 Iowa fell to 15-6 and 6-4 in the conference, and now has Big Ten co-leader Illinois up next on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It’ll be Iowa’s third game in seven days.
Iowa had no answer for all-Big Ten point guard Anthony Cowan Jr., who finished with 31 points, six assists and six rebounds.
Garza still led Iowa in scoring with 21 points despite sitting on the bench for 15 minutes in foul trouble.
"We're a different team with Luka," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said on the Big ten Network. "The more he's out there, the better we are. It kind of changes everything. But others have to step up."
Garza picked up his third foul and went to the bench with 15 minutes, 32 seconds left in the second half, and his fourth foul with 7:55 remaining. He was inserted back in the game with 6:24 remaining after Maryland had started to pull away.
But there was no fantastic finish this time, unlike the previous game this past Monday when Iowa closed with a 23-5 scoring run to defeat Wisconsin 68-62 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“They run their offense at such a fast pace, and we got lucky that Garza was in foul trouble all night,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said on the Big Ten Network post-game interview. “We got our offense going the last 28 minutes of the game. We attacked their zone a lot better and finally made a few shots.
“But Anthony Cowan was terrific, offensively and defensively, very efficient. He shared the ball. He’s been spectacular all year.”
Thursday’s game was a drastic change from the first meeting between these two teams when Iowa cruised to a 67-49 victory on Jan. 10th at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Cowan was held to just nine points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field in the first game.
Iowa was leading 10-7 in Thursday's game when Garza picked up his second foul with 15:15 left in the first half. He went to the bench and didn’t return until the 6:37 mark of the first half, and with Iowa leading 23-22.
Senior forward Ryan Kriener went to the bench with 10:39 remaining in the first half after being called for a technical foul, which was his second foul. Kriener apparently said something to a Maryland player after having made a basket and being fouled in the process of shooting.
Maryland made both free throws from the technical foul to trim the deficit to 20-18, and then Kriener made a free throw to complete the old-fashioned 3-point play.
Junior forward Cordel Pemsl then scored on a tip-in to give Iowa a 23-18 lead with 9:30 left in the first half.
Pemsl finished with eight rebounds and four points while playing 15 minutes off the bench.
Iowa was leading by three points when Garza went to the bench early in the first half, and by one point when he returned nearly nine minutes later.
Garza then went back to the bench with 2:25 remaining in the first half, and with Iowa clinging to a 30-29 lead.
Garza was inserted back in the game with 35 seconds remaining in the first half, and with Iowa trailing 36-32, but he missed a jump hook shot from the baseline on Iowa’s final possession of the half.
Maryland let the clock melt down to just few seconds before attempting a shot in the lane that fell short, making the score 36-32 at halftime.
It appeared that the Terrapins were trying to draw a third foul on Garza on the final shot of the half, but he stood vertical in the lane and no foul was called.
Garza only played nine minutes in the first half and scored six points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field.
Sophomore Joe Wieskamp led Iowa with eight points in the first half and finished with 17.
Iowa only shot 38.2 percent in the first half, hitting on just 13-of-34 field-goal attempts, but still only trailed by four points heading into the second half.
Garza also had avoided getting a third foul, so there was reason to be encouraged from Iowa’s standpoint heading into the second half.
Most of the statistics from the first half were pretty even, including both teams having 18 rebounds.
One exception was points in the paint where Maryland had a 16-8 advantage, and where Iowa had two players – Garza and Kriener – in foul trouble.
Iowa was called for 22 fouls during Thursday's game and had two players – Connor McCaffery and Joe Toussaint – both foul out.