Take That, ____ State: A Weekend Sports Review

You might not have noticed it since you were so busy watching the totally drama-free final day of the college football regular season or trying to figure out why Peyton Manning started throwing so many STANZIBALLS all of a sudden, but Iowa athletics played four ___ State teams this weekend -- and beat 'em all.  We already covered the wrestling team's win over Iowa State a few days ago; as for the rest, read on...

IOWA 70, IDAHO STATE 53
Back to .500!  Iowa's yo-yo season continued with another win following a loss. Of course, while this up-and-down play is frustrating to watch in Iowa's relatively non-taxing non-conference season, it would be utterly amazing if they could keep it up in Big Ten play.  (NEWS FLASH FROM THE FUTURE: They won't.)  The beginning of this game made it look as though Iowa could duplicate their 111-50 beatdown of SIU-Edwardsville; they started the game on a 17-2 run and opened up a 26-point lead at one point in the first half.  Unfortunately, they took a siesta after that and the middle portion of the game devolved into a tragicomedy of the usual errors: bad offense with stagnant ball movement and horrific outside shooting (Iowa was 4/21 from three-point range for the game), bad defense with slow rotation and far too many lazy fouls (which is where Idaho State really took advantage: they made 18/20 free throws, compared to 12/22 shooting for Iowa from the stripe).  Fortunately, the defense woke up during the final five minutes of the game and held Idaho State scoreless for the last 4:48.

The keys to victory for Iowa were turnovers (ISU turned it over 23 times to Iowa's 13 giveaways) and offensive rebounding (where Iowa had a 17-4 edge); if you can't buy a shot from the outside, you better be able to get easy shots and second-chance points and Iowa was able to do that.  Bryce Cartwright led the way with 15 points and 8 assists (to only 3 turnovers) and Eric May chipped in 11 points and 6 rebounds.  Matt Gatens was the second-leading scorer with 14 points, but that rather masks the fact that he was a brutal 1/10 from long range.  Luckily, he found plenty of other ways to contribute: 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals.  His poor outside shooting is frustrating (if totally explicable, given his recent hand injury) and we understand him wanting to shoot his way out of a slump.  It's not like he's hoisting up bad shots, either -- most of his threes are very good looks that just aren't going down. That said, we'd rather not see him hoisting up so many shots if the game is close and he's still off.

#6 IOWA 29, MICHIGAN STATE 10
The Iowa wrestleballers -- who will totally use a balled-up fist to PUNCH YOU IN THE GODDAMN MOUTH IF YOU DON'T STOP ACTING LIKE A LITTLE DICKBAG (just ask Grant Gambrall*) -- followed up their solid win over Iowa State on Friday night with an even more dominant thrashing of Michigan State on Saturday evening.  The win extended a trio of Iowa's long dual meet winning streaks: overall (67), at home (29), and against Big Ten foes (28).  Another day, another domination.  Not that anything else was really expected: as noted in Friday's preview, Iowa figured to be a favorite (if not a pretty heavy favorite) at most weights and Sparty had few wrestlers that ranked in the national top 20. 

*--Gambrall didn't actually punch his opponent in the goddamn mouth, in case you were wondering.

125: #1 Matt McDonough FALL (3:48)  Eric Olanowski (IOWA 6-0)
133: Tony Ramos TECH FALL (16-1, 5:13) Josh Harper (IOWA 11-0)
141: Mark Ballweg FALL (2:05) Joel Trombly (IOWA 17-0)
149:
Dan Osterman MAJ DEC (12-2) Jeret Chiri (IOWA 17-4)
157: #9
Derek St. John DEC (9-7) #13 David Cheza (IOWA 20-4)
165: #15
Jake Kerr DEC (4-2) Ben Boudro (IOWA 23-4)
174:
Curran Jacobs DEC (6-5) #20 Ethen Lofthouse (IOWA 23-7)
184: #7
Grant Gambrall DEC (3-1) Ian Hinton (IOWA 26-7)
197: #13
Luke Lofthouse DEC (12-5) Tyler Dickenson (IOWA 29-7)
HWT:
Mike McClure DEC (4-2) #15 Blake Rasing (IOWA 29-10)

Any drama in the dual -- and any practical hope for a Michigan State upset -- was drained away after Iowa opened up a 17-0 lead following two pins and a technical fall in the first three matches; that hole was simply far too big to escape.  Which isn't to say that there wasn't still some excitement in the remainder of the dual: DSJ provided probably the most thrilling match of the evening with his come-from-behind win against Cheza (he got in an early hole after giving up a five-point move on a reversal with three nearfall points, but battled back with a relentless and methodical attack that wore down Cheza) and Gambrall gave the meet its most dramatic moment when he responded to Hinton's repeated closed-fist blows to the side of the head by shoving him off the mat and into the Iowa coaching area (unlike a proper wrestling manager, though, the Brands brothers did not throw salt in Hinton's eyes or wallop him with a chair).  Said Brands afterwards:

"The 184-pound match made it interesting," said Brands. "The bottom line is if somebody is clubbing you, you stop it now. Someone lays heavy hands on you; you give them back to him. I'm not saying in an unsportsmanlike way, but you stop it now. That's what Gambrall did. It wasn't a temper thing; he didn't lose his temper. He stopped the nonsense. All of the finger grabbing, you have to stop that stuff. And he stopped it. It spilled over into our area, the fans got excited and the referee had to sort it out. They go back to wrestling and Gambrall does a good job; as cool as a cucumber. That's important."

Quick thoughts on each weight following the weekend:

* 125: McD is a stud.  But we already knew that.

* 133: Ramos is exciting.  He was a takedown machine this weekend and his impressive showing makes the 133 race even more muddled.  We'll need to see what he can do against more top-level competition before we name him the favorite, though.

* 141: Great weekend for Mark Ballweg.  He scored an upset win over #11 Chris Drouin of ISU on Friday and got a quick pin on Saturday.  He's been a very pleasant surprise thus far.

* 149: Oh, how we miss you, Brent Metcalf... although nice work on commentary for Saturday's meet.  Jeret Chri looks completely overmatched at this weight right now; he lost a pair of major decisions and neither was fluky in the slightest -- he just got straight worked over.  After the MSU meet, Andy Hamilton tweeted that Matt Ballweg would be moving down to 149 from 157 in times for the Midlands tournament at the end of the month; at this point we'll take any option we can get at 149.

*157: DSJ looks damn impressive.  He made a costly mistake in the Cheza match, but he also didn't panic and rebounded to grind out a solid win.  He's going to be fun to watch.

* 165: After his underwhelming loss to Andrew Sorenson on Friday, it was a bit of a surprise that Jake Kerr got the nod again on Saturday (although it was probably because Aaron Janssen was off winning a title at the Northern Iowa Open).  He did respond with a win on Saturday, but it wasn't terribly impressive.  It would be a total shock if Janssen didn't get an opportunity at this weight in some of the upcoming meets.

*174: Perhaps no Iowa wrestler had a more disappointing weekend than Ethen Lofthouse.  Granted, there wasn't too much shame in losing a decision to ISU's Jon Reader (#3 at 174), but he looked a bit listless on Saturday, too.  He was one of the more buzzed-about newcomers on the team coming into the season, so he needs to pick it up.

*184: A solid weekend of work for Gambrall.  He's Iowa's second-highest ranked wrestler (behind McDonough) and he didn't do much to disprove that notion.  The Saturday win over Hinton wasn't hugely impressive, but Hinton is ranked by some services (in the lower teens), so he's not a total scrub or anything. 

*197: The elder Lofthouse made sure the weekend wasn't a bust for the entire Lofthouse clan by picking up an impressive 12-5 win on Saturday, but his struggles against top-flight competition remain a worry.  Until he can more consistently finish his shots and get takedowns, it's going to be hard for us to have a lot of confidence in him.

* HWT: Probably about what we should expect from Rasing: he's going to wrestle a lot of close matches and he's going to win some and he's going to lose some.  His massive size will give him an advantage against smaller heavyweights (see: Friday night), but for the most part his matches are going to come down to a few moves here and there.  Hopefully he can figure out a way to be more consistent by the time the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments roll around.

All in all, a solid weekend of work from the Iowa wrestlers.  And a thumbs up to the live streaming of the event on BTN.com; aside from a few technical difficulties on my end during Saturday's meet, things went very smoothly.   The quality of the audio and video feeds was good and the StudentU production on Saturday's event was solid.  So if you're wondering whether or not to pony up for the live streams in the future  -- I'd give a thumbs up if wrestling is your main interest.  (The basketball stream was a bit of a mess on Saturday.)

#18 IOWA 68, KANSAS STATE 62
Fresh off their first defeat of the season (against UNC in the ladies' version of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge), the Iowa women's basketball team bounced back with a 68-62 win over K-State.  Jamie Morgan Printy led the way with 20 points and 5 assists, while Kachine Alexander added 12 points and 7 rebounds and Morgan Johnson added 13 points and 6 rebounds.  Iowa's the second-highest ranked Big Ten team (behind -- who else -- Ohio State) and off to a good start after last year's strong finish.  We don't often pay much attention to the women's hoops team at BHGP, but every once in a while it's worth tipping our cap to the one basketball team on campus that has honest expectations of playing in the NCAA Tournament come March. 

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