Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports
Iowa unable to complete a second consecutive second-half road comeback in West Lafayette.
Despite getting 18 points from freshman guard Mike Gesell, the Iowa Hawkeyes fell 65-62 to the Purdue Boilermakers Sunday. For the second time in a week, Iowa staged a furious second-half comeback but was unable to finish with a road win. After scoring just 16 points in the game's first half and falling behind by as many as 11 points in the second half, Iowa rallied with 17 points over six minutes to tie the game and held a three-point lead in the game's final minutes. Purdue tied the game with 33 seconds to go, and Roy Devyn Marble missed a short jump shot to send the game to overtime. The Boilermakers took quick control of overtime, and Iowa's continued struggles from the field made a second comeback impossible.
Gesell's 18 points led the Hawkeyes. Marble, Aaron White, and Melsahn Basabe each had 12. No other Hawkeye scored more than two, as Iowa shot just 31.1 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from three. The Hawkeyes did keep the rebounding battle close against one of the nation's best rebounding teams and got to the free throw line, but the limited scoring from the remainder of the team eventually caught up with them. Purdue got 17 points and 12 boards from Terone Johnson, 15 more from Ronnie Johnson, and 12 off the bench from Donnie Hale.
On the one hand, the back-to-back comeback road losses are a positive step forward for an extremely young team. Iowa's first two road games of the season were unmitigated disasters, where Iowa went through a mid-game slump, fell behind, and let the wheels come off the wagon. The Northwestern win was a breakthrough of sorts, but the second-half comebacks against Ohio State and Purdue showed that this team can overcome road adversity. The next step is learning to finish, which will come with time. On the other hand, Iowa's third two-game losing streak of the year puts a serious damper on its postseason plans. A road win at Ohio State would have been the signature victory in a sesaon that is running out of signature opportunities. Sunday's game was a chance to solidify Iowa as a top-half Big Ten team; without a win at Purdue, the Hawkeyes remain in the mid-table morass, destined to spend the rest of the season on the bubble.
Iowa returns to action Thursday at home against Penn State before road trips to Minnesota and Wisconsin.