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Bounced: Ohio State 73, Iowa 69

Hawkeyes struggle to get things going as their Big Ten season comes to a close

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Second Round - Iowa vs Ohio State Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa Hawkeyes’ (19-13, 11-10) upside-down season continues with a 73-69 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes (15-18, 7-15). The Hawks finished the Big Ten season 2-6 against teams starting the conference tournament yesterday and 4-3 on those starting tomorrow.

Ohio State closed out down the stretch, finishing 5/7 from the field, while Iowa made 3/10 in the final 8 minutes. Two missed free throws with 2:27 remaining by Tony Perkins proved crucial, as it was Iowa’s final chance to go ahead. Three point shooting again kept the lid on Iowa’s offense with 4/17.

He finished with 16 while Filip Rebraca led the game with 20 points and 7 rebounds, going 7/12 from the field and 6/6 from the line. Kris Murray added 17 on 7/17 shooting.

Unlike the prior two matchups, both teams started slow offensively. OSU set the tone with their defense and pace as they were able to force seven first-half turnovers and scored eight points off of them. Justice Sueing proved tough against Kris Murray in the half as Iowa’s forward had just 7 points on 3/8 shooting, too often settling for jumpers.

Further exacerbating Iowa’s struggles from deep - 2/10 in the half - was Payton Sandfort picking up two early fouls.

With Murray’s shot not falling, though, he impacted the game with the little things with five rebounds and four assists. Following up a silly turnover from Josh Dix, Iowa came right back with a Rebraca post-up. Ohio State’s following possession resulted in a Murray block/rebound/assist on a fast break dunk from Rebraca to give Iowa the 24-23 lead. He led the game with 10 points at half.

Despite Buckeye freshman Brice Sensabaugh picking up his second foul shortly after taking the lead, Iowa couldn’t take advantage. Fellow frosh Bruce Thornton nailed a three to get the Buckeyes ahead at 28-26 to continue his impressive run of play with nine points in the frame.

A Tony Perkins jumper tied it up before Isaac Likekele hit one of two free throws after drawing a foul on Connor McCaffery which resulted in a foot injury for McCaffery. OSU entered the half up 29-28.

In a tale of two halves, the Hawkeyes were able to get the game more of their pace as the game got a little ragged to begin the half. Murray hit a three to open the scoring and later added an old-school three-point play to get the 37-33 lead, Iowa’s largest lead since early in the game.

The Buckeyes never lost contact, though, with Sean McNeil, Thornton, & Sensabaugh trading baskets with Hawkeyes matching baskets throughout the middle portion of the half. Perkins’ energy kept the Hawks afloat with nine of Iowa’s 14 points during the stretch.

Empty possessions kept Iowa from extending the lead, though. After Rebraca’s layup got the lead back to three for the Hawks, they rushed through two quick possessions off of Buckeye misses. An unfortunate Sandfort foul resulted in just one made free throw but the Hawks came up empty again. Roddy Gayle, Jr.’s layup tied it up at 57 for the Buckeyes.

The game continued its back-and-forth nature as Gayle once again tied it up at 61. Iowa couldn’t regain the lead and Gayle nailed another three. After Perkins hit a layup, the Buckeyes converted a helter skelter possession into a Sueing three with 1:54 remaining.

Every time Iowa cut into the deficit, OSU bounced right back. A Thornton layup with 1:16, a couple Gayle free throws, and Sueing closing it out at the line with nine seconds left cemented the difference.

This play proved just how topsy-turvy this game was for Iowa.

Ohio State had trouble with the Hawks’ pressure for much of the game and couldn’t secure the inbound pass to allow Iowa to play out the foul game with OSU having just the 1-and-1. I don’t think the Buckeyes had a clean dribble or pass in getting the ball from endline to endline. Some incorrect refereeing gave OSU the ball sideline out of bounds with 11 seconds left instead of the baseline with 14.

Doesn’t make a difference, but it still stinks.

Iowa closes out the Big Ten slate going 2-4 in their final six and will await the news on when and where they’re playing in the NCAA Tournament.