NCAA Tournament: Iowa avoids another collapse, wins at buzzer

An NCAA Tournament 7-10 matchup saw the slumping Iowa Hawkeyes aim for redemption against the hotter Temple Owls.

Temple Owls
Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa has not fared well in big games in year’s past but Adam Woodbury‘s buzzer beating put back ended Iowa’s string of disasters as the Hawkeyes edged the Owls, 72-70.

Both teams came out shooting fairly poorly from the field. Iowa star Jarrod Uthoff in particular started out 0-of-4, but hit several in a row after that to settle into something of a rhythm. What stood out in the first 10 minutes is how fiery second-leading scorer Peter Jok was. He hit three big three-pointers in a row to put the Hawks up 19-13 early.

The rest of the half would see much the same with Temple trying to catch up and Iowa utilizing their two stars and pressure defense to dictate the halfcourt pace. Mike Gesell picked two fouls quickly, putting Iowa’s best distributor on the bench.

Without him, Iowa went cold from deep and Temple went on a run to take a one-point lead around the six minute mark. The rest of the half saw both teams take mostly bad shots or turn the ball over.

After being up 12 at one stage, Iowa went into the locker room up just 38-37. Uthoff and Jok paced the Hawks with 14 and nine, respectively. On the other side, Jaylen Bond had 10 and seven and Quenton DeCosey scored 12 for the Owls.

The start of the second half saw both squads trade buckets with hustle plays for each side. DeCosey picked up a third foul early on, which put him on the bench for several minutes. Bond would collect his second foul soon after. Iowa would use Temple’s new foul trouble to push their lead to 10 at the 13:25 mark.

Temple battled back thanks to another cold stretch from the Hawks, but they had a three rattle out and the offensive board get slapped away in Iowa’s favor by the pesky Gesell.

Iowa was up three with just 11 second left, but missed two huge free throws at the end and fouled DeCosey on a desperation heave. The Owls tied the game up and their final shot went awry to send the game to overtime.

In the extra period, Iowa pulled ahead early thanks to free throws from Woodbury and Uthoff, but Temple took a 68-66 lead due to aggressive drives and a rare sloppy play from Anthony Clemmons.

The two teams traded punches yet again with no clear advantage. The game ultimately ended on an airball tip put-back by Woodbury in what is possibly the most important play of his entire career, not to mention it saved the Hawks from another stunning collapse.

What stood out to me for most of the game is how well Iowa took care of the ball. They had just three turnovers the entire game. While they were far from spectacular most of the game, the Hawks’ careful play meant that Temple had even fewer chances to keep the pressure up than they would otherwise.

The careful play was just enough to overcome a horrendous 35% shooting performance from the floor.

For Iowa, Uthoff led the way with 23 points, five rebounds, two steals, and a block, but shot just 7-of-21 and 2-of-10 from deep. Woodbury and Jok were the only other Hawkeyes with more than seven points.

Even in a great win, Iowa simply must get more scoring from the supporting cast if they want to beat increasingly good teams. They stay in Brooklyn for the time being to play Villanova, who destroyed UNC-Asheville earlier.

For Temple, the loss sends home a squad that fought hard against a more talented Iowa team.

DeCosey put the team on his back to the tune of 26 points and eight rebounds. He had two other players join him in double figures, but to no avail at the very end.

DeCosey and Bond graduate, but there is more than enough left for Temple to make a serious run at the American Conference championship next year.