Second half lull, defensive lapses steer Iowa to third-straight loss


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In its rescheduled match against Indiana, and for the first time since Jan. 10, 2013, the Iowa men’s basketball team dropped its third-straight game Tuesday night.

Before halftime, Iowa’s offense was seemingly unstoppable — it shot 59 percent and hid an otherwise atrocious effort on defense.

Despite allowing 49 points —10 points more than Indiana’s previous Big Ten high in the first half — the Hawkeyes took a 52-49 lead into the locker room at halftime because of a well-rounded offensive effort.

But Hoosiers Will Sheehey and Stanford Robinson both registered career highs Thursday night, scoring 30 and 17, respectively. This season, the duo has averaged just 16 points per game combined.

In addition to the Hawks’ three-game slide, what should provide more frustration for the Hawkeyes and fans of the program that Penn State knocked off Ohio State Thursday night, just as Iowa’s game was beginning. The Buckeyes’ loss opened up an opportunity for the Black and Gold to grab sole possession of the coveted fourth spot in the Big Ten standings.

Ohio State (9-7 Big Ten) now holds a 1/2 game lead over Iowa (8-7) in conference. That fourth seed is particularly significant, because the top four seeds receive a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

But Iowa’s putrid effort on defense — which allowed more than 90 points in regulation for the second-consecutive game — and a nearly nine-minute stretch without a field goal in the second half was enough for Indiana to seize the 7-point victory over a more-talented Hawkeye squad.

At the 9:50 mark of the second half, senior forward Melsahn Basabe tipped in a Devyn Marble missed lay-up. The basket put Iowa in front 66-64, and despite the tight score, it seemed as if Iowa was very much in control.

But that was the last Hawkeye basket until there was just 1:22 left in the game, when the game was all but over.

Positives for Iowa were the 20-point performance from Marble, the 19-point, 10-rebound double-double for junior forward Aaron White, and the return of Basabe, who missed Iowa’s last two games because of an illness.

The Glen Cove, N.Y., native contributed an impressive 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting and was the physical presence down low Iowa missed greatly against both Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Iowa will get another shot to right the ship against Purdue on March 2; the Boilermakers will travel to Carver-Hawkeye for a 1 p.m. tip. The Big Ten Network has the coverage for the game.

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