Gesell, Cole lead in Prime Time loss
Up until this point, coach Dan Ahrens' team, Jill Armstrong of Skogman Realty, had arguably played like the best team in the league. Dynamic players such as Mike Gesell and Melsahn Basabe stack the squad and, Ahrens and company looked ready to match up favorably against coach Randy Larson's Vinton Merchants/Gatens team.
But that's not the case.
Ahrens' team fell, 104-96, to Larson's band of Hawkeyes in Prime Time action on Sunday.
"We played defense, and we were able to get a lot of stops," said Zach McCabe, who finished the game with 17 points. "Mike got open shots in the beginning, and as the game went on, we adjusted."
Incoming freshman Gesell has been constantly showing fans the impact he can make at the college level with impressive Prime Time games. He finished the game with 28 points on Sunday, going 13-of-19 shooting with 10 assists.
But despite these numbers, he's not satisfied with the level of play.
"We didn't play good enough defense," Gesell said. "We fell in the hole early. We weren't getting to those loose balls, and they were getting those hustle plays you need to win ball games."
Ahrens' team suffered from a slow start and could never put a strong defensive front together during the game. Larson's team began pulling away from Gesell and his team near the end of the first half.
Larson's team held a 17-point lead with a little more than three minutes left in the first half, but the squad saw the comfortable lead shrink with a run led by Iowa alum Jarryd Cole.
Basabe nabbed a steal with fewer than 10 seconds to go until halftime. He put his head up and found Cole breaking for a last-second shot. Cole put down a thunderous dunk right before half to shrink the lead to 10 points.
Some of the momentum from Cole's dunk carried over into the second half, but it wasn't enough to take the lead, and Ahrens' team trailed for the entire game. The starters for Larson's team didn't back down — all finished the game in double figures.
"We moved the ball extremely well," ex-Wisconsin forward Jarrod Uthoff said. "We took good shots and played good defense — the keys to winning any game."
Uthoff finished the game with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Larson's team was able to create open shots because of the inside game of incoming Iowa freshman Adam Woodbury and the outside games of such players as Josh Oglesby, Uthoff, and McCabe.
Woodbury finished with 16 points and only 3 rebounds, but his best work came from beyond the stat sheet. Matching up against Cole isn't easy. He finished the game with 30 points and had 11 rebounds, but Woodbury — five years younger — was able to hold his own.
"People were ready to write me off after the first game [against Cole]," Woodbury said. "I figured if I held up my own confidence and held my own game, I'd show you guys what I could really do. Hopefully, I can keep getting better."
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