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Iowa fades in second half, loses to Nebraska

Scott Dochterman, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa –

IOWA CITY — The game meant something to Zach McCabe. That’s why the final result hurt him so much.

The Iowa sophomore from Sioux City tightened his jaw and answered questions after the Hawkeyes’ 79-73 loss to Nebraska Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. McCabe tied a career-high with 20 points — matching his output in the previous game against Purdue — but the points didn’t matter to him.

It was another loss, and he struggled to compose himself afterward.

“I’m getting open, just driving on people, just being aggressive,” he said about his offensive effort. “It doesn’t really matter because we lost.

“The second half I turned the ball over a couple of times at the beginning. So I’ve still got to look at that.”

McCabe’s pain was evident as his eyes started to water. But the frustration wasn’t his alone. To a man every player said they missed an opportunity to not only win, but even their Big Ten record at 4-4. The Hawkeyes led by 11 points in the first half — the second consecutive game Iowa lost after securing an early double-digit lead.

In the second half, Iowa (11-10, 3-5 Big Ten) failed to stop the Big Ten’s worst scoring offensive attack. The Cornhuskers, which claimed their first league road win since joining the Big Ten, scored on 17 of their final 19 possessions and twice secured offensive rebounds that led to points.

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Perhaps the toughest blow for Iowa came when Devyn Marble sank a pair of free throws with 1:07 left to pull within 75-73. Nebraska worked the clock down, and Dylan Talley missed a 3-point attempt. But the ball was tipped out, and Nebraska guard Brandon Richardson secured the rebound. Toney McCray eventually was fouled, and he hit two free throws to push Nebraska’s lead back to four.

“I think it was fairly typical of, you know, probably what we’ve been experiencing all year,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “We couldn’t get a stop when we needed it. I don’t think I’m saying anything everyone in this room doesn’t already understand. You saw it.

“It was disappointing, because, I mean, defensively tonight, that’s about as bad as you can play.”

Iowa failed to corral Richardson, who lit up the Hawkeyes for 25 points. Richardson hit 9-of-10 from the field, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range. He sank as many 3-pointers as Iowa, and it was three more than he had hit so far in the Big Ten season.

“We knew he was capable,” said Iowa point guard Devyn Marble. “We weren’t expecting him to shoot the way he did, but he’s a player.”

The teams battled to a draw for the first nine minutes, then Iowa exploded on a 12-1 run to take a 31-20 lead with 6:20 left in the first half. Nebraska (11-9, 3-6) regrouped during a timeout, then pushed its own 8-0 run when Iowa’s offense went flat. The Hawkeyes failed to convert on seven straight possessions and had three turnovers. But Iowa finished the half strong and led 38-31.

Nebraska’s initial second-half possession proved vital in multiple ways. The Cornhuskers forced McCabe into two fouls, and they converted a pair of free throws after missing two shots. Richardson hit a 3-pointer on the next possession to close the Iowa’s lead to two.

Iowa still controlled the game and led 61-56 with 6:27 left. But Richardson sank two 3-pointers during 12 straight scoring possessions to keep the pressure on the Hawkeyes. Iowa couldn’t keep up.

“We couldn’t get stops,” McCabe said. “We’re up 11, we’ve got to keep going. All coaches tell us that. You’re up 11, you’ve got to get it up to 15 or 20, stuff like that. That’s what we’re not doing. That’s what we haven’t done all season, really. We just got to be mentally tough, tougher physically. We need to stop letting them get second opportunities.”


McCray 2-6 4-6 8, Ubel 2-2 2-2 6, Richardson 9-10 1-2 25, Spencer 5-13 6-6 16, Walker 3-8 2-4 8, Diaz 3-5 1-2 7, Talley 3-8 2-2 9, Fox 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-52 18-24 79.

IOWA (11-10)

Basabe 0-0 1-2 1, McCabe 9-11 0-0 20, May 2-5 0-1 5, Marble 3-9 9-10 15, Gatens 5-13 0-0 12, Oglesby 2-6 0-0 5, Brommer 0-0 0-0 0, Cartwright 1-4 0-0 2, White 4-6 3-4 11, Archie 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 27-55 13-18 73.

Halftime_Iowa 38-31. 3-Point Goals_Nebraska 7-20 (Richardson 6-7, Talley 1-3, McCray 0-2, Spencer 0-4, Walker 0-4), Iowa 6-19 (McCabe 2-3, Gatens 2-8, May 1-1, Oglesby 1-4, White 0-1, Cartwright 0-1, Marble 0-1). Fouled Out_McCabe. Rebounds_Nebraska 34 (McCray 8), Iowa 27 (White 9). Assists_Nebraska 15 (Richardson 5), Iowa 11 (Cartwright 5). Total Fouls_Nebraska 15, Iowa 18. A_10,538.

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