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Iowa 81, Maryland 67: Streaking

Make it 4 in a row for the surging Hawkeyes

NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Iowa Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Perkins, in a resurgent performance, scored a career high 22 points on 10-13 shooting, Kris Murray tallied 17 second half points after only scoring 2 in the entire first half, and Payton Sandfort’s hot streak continued to the tune of 12 points and 6 rebounds off the bench as the Iowa Hawkeyes cruised to an 81-67 win over the Maryland Terrapins.

Iowa’s 60% field goal shooting on 33-55 shots was a season best, as the Hawkeyes made their last 7 field goal attempts to close out the win. The Hawks were greatly assisted by Connor McCaffery’s 12 points and Ahron Ulis’ 9.

The win puts Iowa at 11-6 on the year and 3-3 in Big Ten Conference play, with an NCAA tournament appearance seemingly like a lock at this point.

Basketball, as they say, is a game of runs, and this game delivered on the age old adage. Both teams scored most of their points in the first half on back-and-forth scoring runs, including to start the second half. Maryland cut a 10-point IOwa lead down to two to begin the second half, but a huge response from Iowa got the lead back to double digits and ensured that the Hawkeyes never trailed again.

The Terrapins started things off a 4-0 run, but Iowa responded quickly with an 8-0 run of its own, with multiple Hawkeyes contributing on the scoring front. The Hawkeyes to their credit, made life difficult for Maryland on the defensive end of the court, forcing 4 turnovers on steals in the first 8 minutes of the game. But the Hawkeyes couldn’t take full advantage, maintaining a narrow 10-6 lead.

Perkins was a key contributor in establishing Iowa’s early lead, scoring 9 of the team’s first 17. A great out of bounds play with Sandfort coming off screens from the top of the key for a layup then put the Hawkeyes up 19-10 with 9:03 left in the first half, their largest lead of the early game, to force a Terrapin timeout.

The Terrapins responded by bringing Julian Reese back into the game despite his two early fouls. He made an immediate impact, sparking a 6-0 Maryland run to cut the lead to only 3. But as was common for the game, Iowa responded with a another scoring run of their own, again thanks to Sandfort, and getting out to a double-digit 29-19 lead.

It was like the Hawkeyes couldn’t miss, making 6 straight field goals, and getting the lead all the way up to 39-23 as part of a huge scoring run. Maryland seemed flummoxed defensively, not being able to close out on Iowa shooters as they made seemingly every shot they wanted, especially from beyond the arc.

Despite Maryland cutting into the lead, Iowa still managed to go into the half up 43-33 as Maryland closed the half on a 10-3 run.

Maryland took the momentum from the end of the first half right into the second half, immediately cutting Iowa’s lead down to 2, but the Hawkeyes, continuing to be led by Perkins, did not let the Terrapins take back the lead. He was not only the main scorer for the Hawkeyes, but had huge contributions on the defensive end of the floor as well to ensure his opponent couldn’t take back the lead.

He capped it off with a huge slam in transition to not only break the game being locked at 47-44, but tally 21 points on the day, his career high. Perkins then found Murray for a wide open 3 as part of a 6-0 run to give his squad a 55-44 cushion.

Murray, after a 2-point first half, also came alive late in the second half, scoring 17 second half points that were crucial in ensuring Maryland never cutting into the lead. The teams traded baskets, but Maryland could never get enough stops on the Hawkeyes to truly cut into the lead, with Iowa marinating a double-digit lead with 4 minutes to play.

Maryland, desperate to score and score quickly, had to settle for low-quality shots, and the Hawkeyes were able to seal the deal.