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Hawkeyes let one get away

BY BEN ROSS | JANUARY 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa had two chances to win it. The Hawkeyes were tied at 61 with 10 seconds to go when Devyn Marble took the ball at the top of the key. The Michigan native drove down the middle and put up a floater, but the orange rock rimmed out. One doughnut, no coffee. Melsahn Basabe had a chance at the put back, but that fell short as well. Those who packed the ice-cream cone-shaped stands in Carver-Hawkeye Arena were treated to five minutes of free basketball.

No. 7 Michigan State (19-2, 8-1 Big Ten) had it all but wrapped up in overtime. The Spartans were up for three and a half of the five overtime minutes, and No. 15 Iowa (16-5, 5-3) couldn’t make anything work in the extra frame.

The Hawkeyes managed just a single field goal in overtime, when Marble scooped one of his team-high 21 points in with 6 seconds left. The last field goal for Iowa prior to that was at the 9:56 mark of the second half, when Zach McCabe sunk a 3-pointer. All of Iowa’s points between McCabe’s and Marble’s field goals came from the free-throw line, where it shot 30-of-43 on Tuesday night. To iterate: Iowa went 14 minutes and 50 seconds without hitting a field goal.

“We were driving the ball; we were throwing it inside and trying to get to the free-throw line. We missed 13 free-throws, that’s unfortunate,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. “We make our free-throws, and we have a chance to win. I felt we were moving the ball well, we had some really good looks at it and just didn’t make any.”

Things seemed to be within reach during the overtime period for Iowa until 34 ticks remained on the clock, when it was down 67-64. That’s when Denzel Valentine dished it out to Russell Byrd in the corner.

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Byrd, who played a season-high 18 minutes in the contest, hit just his third 3-pointer on the year, which were also his only points on the night. He effectively slammed the door shut.

“Nobody in Vegas is taking that thing,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo jokingly said of Byrd’s efforts after the game.

Mike Gesell then made two free throws with 18 seconds left to put Iowa within 4. Travis Trice made one of his two charity shots following Gesell, and Devyn Marble got his lay-up along with the and-1. Iowa was back within 2. Keith Appling missed both his shots after getting fouled, and Gesell had the ball back in his hands with four seconds left. He drove to the hoop, going coast to coast. Again, the trip didn’t yield any coffee for Iowa.

“That was a shot I’m confident in myself I can make … I felt like I had a good look. That’s how it goes sometimes,” Gesell said. “I wasn’t able to knock it down. It obviously hurts to lose a game like this … we will be a better ball club because of this game … This program, just a few years ago almost, would be happy to be playing a top-10 team that close.”

But close only matters with horseshoes and hand grenades. Big Ten basketball doesn’t reward close. Iowa was up 30-26 at halftime but squandered that lead and fell apart in overtime. The Hawkeyes missing 13 free-throws doesn’t help, but neither does shooting 3-of-12 from 3-point range or allowing Matt Costello to snag 12 rebounds and net 11 points, especially when both Iowa centers have a height advantage.

“We didn’t make plays. I think missing free throws down the stretch, I think that could have changed the way the game was going and the flow of the game. It could have put us up 1 instead of being tied. That changes everything,” Marble said after the game. “I think if we made our free throws, back some of the defensive rebounds up, we would have been fine.”


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