March 18, 2012
EUGENE, Ore -- It's hard to win a college basketball game when your opponent knocks down 28 of 32 free throws.
It's hard to win a college basketball game when your opponent shoots 70 percent from the field in the second half.
It's hard to win a college basketball game when your opponent nails 7 of 10 three-point attempts in game's final 20.
It's hard to win a college basketball game when an opponent comes off the bench to score a 22 points.
All of the aforementioned happened Sunday afternoon here to Fran McCaffery's Iowa Hawkeyes. And they explain the final score of 108-97 in favor of the home team, the Oregon Ducks, in a second round game of the 2012 National Invitation Tournament.
The loss brings to a close the 2011-12 season for the Hawkeyes, a season that was two games longer than most had expected in early December when McCaffery's squad was searching for itself. Iowa ended its second year under McCaffery with a 18-17 record that included its first appearance in postseason play since the 2005-06 season, eight regular season Big Ten Conference victories, four wins over Top 25 opponents, and its first victory in the Big Ten's post-season tournament in seven years.
"I'm proud of our guys, very proud...proud of what we accomplished this year. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. The character of this team was unbelievable."
The win pushed the Ducks' record to 24-9. Oregon will play Pac-12 Conference rival Washington Tuesday night in Seattle with the winner advancing to New York City and Madison Square Garden.
"Offensively, we were in great shape. We were executing the game plan. Defensively, we broke down late in the first and in the second half. We got it to a three-possession game but we just couldn't get a three to drop. I'm proud of our guys, very proud...proud of what we accomplished this year. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. The character of this team was unbelievable," said McCaffery.
The UI's Devyn Marble tried mightily to carry the Hawkeyes to victory. The sophomore guard was simply spectacular. He sank seven straight three-point attempts en route to a career-high 31 points. He was also perfect on four attempts from the charity stripe, grabbed five rebounds and was credited with five assists against zero turnovers.
"I wanted to come out and be aggressive for the team. They gave me the three-pointer and I took it," Marble told the Hawkeye Radio Network.
Iowa attempted 79 shots from the field - 20 more than Oregon - but shot just 46 percent compared to Oregon's 59. The Hawkeyes also outrebounded the home team, 31-30, and committed just 10 turnovers.
Oregon won this game at the line where they had two times more attempts than the Hawkeyes.
Iowa started fast and went up by 15 when Matt Gatens knocked down his only three of the game to give the visiting team a 31-16 lead midway through the first half. Oregon trimmed that margin to four at halftime and took its first lead of the night at 60-58 when E.J. Singlar made a pair of free throws with a little more than 16 minutes to play.
Singlar - the game's leading scorer with 25 -points gave the Ducks their first eight-point lead at 84-76 when he nailed a three and took one to the rim on back-to-back possession with a little more than eight minutes to play. And, when the Hawkeyes tried to make a run, Singlar twice made buckets to push the Ducks back up by nine in the game's final minutes.
Olu Ashaolu added 22 and Carlos Emory 19 for Oregon, who also got 15 points from Devoe Joseph and Garrett Sim. Three different Ducks had six rebounds.
Iowa used the three to race to a 14-5 lead - and take the crowd out of the game -- at the 16-minute television timeout. Marble knocked down a pair and McCabe and White each added. McCabe added a heady put-back when he followed Cartwright to the rim and got an easy two off the glass.
The margin reached 28-14 when Marble sank his fourth three-pointer of the game's first eight minutes. That basket came after a pair of Basabe lay-ins.
The home team wasn't going to go away, however, and used a 15-5 run capped by a two-pointer by Jeremy Jacob to pull to within six at 35-29.
Iowa responded with yet another three by Marble - his fifth - and throwback three by Basabe and a pair of jumpers by Cartwright to get to 47-38 with 3:13 to play.
Oregon closed the half on a roll thanks in great measure to Ashaolu. The powerful forward who scored 18 points in the first 20 minutes had six in the half's final two minutes and change. Four came from the line where the 6-foot-7 senior showed a nice touch.
Marble had 19 points during the first half when Iowa made eight of 11 attempts from behind the arc, grabbed 16 rebounds, and collected 13 assists to just five turnovers.