In a back and forth battle the entire way, no. 17/21 Iowa survived a strong performance by Rutgers in front of a sold out RAC to win on a three-pointer by Joe Wieskamp in the corner with 0.2 seconds to play. Moments before Geo Baker made a three of his own to give Rutgers a 1 point lead with 3 seconds remaining. The game was as competitive as we’ve seen this season and the Scarlet Knights played their hearts out, but it resulted in a gut punch of a defeat.
First Half Summary
Rutgers jumped out to an early 9-4 lead, but Iowa fought back to tie it and the game was a back and forth battle for much of the first half. At one point, Ron Harper Jr. and Nicholas Baer traded three-pointers on back to back possessions for both teams. Tied at 22, Rutgers went on a 6-0 run for 28-22 lead. Ron Harper Jr. had 14 points at the under-four timeout, as he had just made a great move on the inside and was 4 of 5 from behind the arc. Iowa responded out of the timeout with a 6-0 run of their own. Iowa showed three-quarter court pressure and shifted to a 1-2-2 zone at times to try and slow down Rutgers, which was effective at times. After Geo Baker hit a three at the top of the arc, Isaiah Moss followed with a putback at the buzzer and drew the foul. However, he missed the free throw and Rutgers led 33-32 at halftime.
It was an odd half from a statistics perspective, as both teams outperformed the other on their strengths. Iowa committed 10 turnovers to 7 from Rutgers, but held a 13-10 edge in points off of them. They were even on the boards at 19 and Iowa held a 20-10 edge with points in the paint. However, Rutgers was 5 of 13 from three-point range, while Iowa was just 3 of 12. Aside from Harper Jr.’s strong half, Geo Baker had 8 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals while playing with poise on both ends of the floor.
Second Half Summary
Out of the break, Iowa’s Luke Garza hit a three-pointer to take a two-point lead, but Rutgers responded with a 7-0 run as Montez Mathis made a three of his own and was the sixth of the game for the home team. The Scarlet Knights led 42-37 at the first media timeout after the half, before Isaiah Moss hit another three for Iowa. However, Caleb McConnell showed his burst off the dribble and found Myles Johnson inside, who converted and was fouled, making the and-1 to put the lead back to five points. However, with Iowa trailing 49-45, they pushed with a 9-0 run to lead 54-49 with 9 minutes to play after a Jordan Bohannon three-pointer.
Shaq Carter ended the run with two free throws and after an Iowa alley-oop, Harper Jr. cut the lead back to three. Soon after, Myles Johnson exhibited great strength in the paint to finish near the rim, but for the second time in the game he couldn’t convert the three point play at the line. Rutgers trailed 56-55 with just over seven minutes to play.
On the next possession, Omoruyi stole it but missed the layup in transition. Johnson followed and tipped it in, but the refs made an awful call and ruled it offensive goaltending. The replay on television showed it was the wrong call but it wasn’t reviewable on the court and Rutgers had 2 costly points taken away. Geo Baker took matters into his own hands and stole it on the next trip down the floor and dished to Omoruyi, who finished in transition. It gave Rutgers a 1 point lead and the RAC was officially rocking.
Jordan Bohannon hit a three to take the lead, but Omoruyi made both free throws on the next possession. Joe Wieskamp gave Iowa the lead back but a Myles Johnson putback didn’t count once again, but this was the proper call as the shot clock had expired. However, after a defensive stop McConnell fed Omoruyi who drew the foul and made both free throws again to tie it 61 and just over four minutes to play.
Iowa made four consecutive free throws of their own to lead 65-61 with 3:30 left in the game. The Hawkeyes went back to a 2-3 zone and Baker forced a three which missed the rim, but Johnson was there to grab the rebound and the putback. Bohannon then drew a foul on the other end and made both shots from the line, as Steve Pikiell called a timeout with Rutgers trailing 67-63 and 2:46 remaining.
Baker missed a shot near the rim, but Mathis stole it on the next Iowa possession. Unfortunately he was fouled on the break and missed the free throw. It was a questionable decision by the officials to not rule it an intention foul on Bohannon, who grabbed Mathis on the play. After Rutgers got a stop on the other end, Myles Johnson scored inside to cut the lead to two.
Rutgers got another stop on the other end and Baker found a cutting Mathis, who drew the foul. He missed the first shot but after Iowa called a timeout in between, he made the second. Rutgers fouled Bohannon on the inbounds play and he made just 1 of 2. Iowa led 68-66 with 26 seconds to play and Pikiell called a timeout with 13 seconds. Geo Baker went into isolation and made a three-pointer with just over 3 seconds remaining that bounced in off the rim. The RAC went bonkers and Iowa called a timeout. However, the celebration was short lived, as Luke Garze threw a pass the length of the court that was tipped and grabbed by Joe Wieskamp, who made a three-pointer in the dead corner with seven-foot Shaq Doorson with a hand in his face with just 0.2 seconds remaining. And just like that, a Rutgers upset victory slipped away.
The Game Changed When
In a game that was tied 8 times, when both teams went into the bonus midway through the second half, it became in part a battle at the free throw line the rest of the way. Iowa made shots from the line for the most part down the stretch, making 7 of 8 and finishing 13 of 18 for 72%, while Rutgers struggled once again from the line making just 10 of 18 for 56%.
It Was Over When
After the Wieskamp three, Rutgers threw its own full length pass but there wasn’t enough time for Omoruyi to get off a shot and the buzzer sounded.
For Iowa, Jordan Bohannon was his usual clutch self and led the Hawkeyes with 18 points on 5 of 11 shooting and 3 of 7 from three-point range. He also had 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds, but more importantly made several big plays down the stretch. Isaiah Moss also had 17 points inside on 7 of 12 shooting, while Wieskamp won the game with his three in the corner, finishing with 9 points.
For Rutgers, Geo Baker played his guts out and finished with 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting, but also had 6 assists, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and just 2 turnovers. He did a good job against the full court pressure of Iowa and moving the ball in the halfcourt against the zone. Baker left everything out on the court and almost won the game on his three in the closing seconds.
Both teams shot 46% from the field, while Iowa was 8 of 21 for 38% from three and Rutgers was 7 of 20 for 35%. The difference was from the free throw line, as Iowa made three more shots from the charity stripe on the same 18 attempts that Rutgers had.
Rutgers held a +1 edge on the boards and a +2 advantage on the offensive glass, leading to a 16-12 advantage on second chance points. While RU held a +2 turnover margin, Iowa had a 18-16 edge in points off of them.
Iowa won the points in the paint battle 34-32 while Rutgers held a 17-11 edge in fast break points.
Other Rutgers Notables
Ron Harper Jr. led Rutgers with 16 points on 6 of 10 shooting and 4 of 7 from three, but had just 2 second half points. Eugene Omoruyi posted a double-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and a team best +/- of 10. Myles Johnson played like a monster at times inside, finishing with 10 points on 4 of 4 shooting, as well as 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.
What We Learned
This was a heck of a basketball game and was an interesting one too, because both teams took away the strengths of the other at times. Rutgers did a good job of maintaining its composure both against the pressure and zone defense of Iowa, as well as when they lost the lead in the final ten minutes of the game but never stopped fighting. They were down 67-63 with 2:46 to play and went on a 6-1 run to lead with 3 seconds to play. Their defense stopped Iowa on three consecutive possessions during this stretch and kept them in the game. They held the top scoring team in the Big Ten 8 points below its season average and lost on a ridiculous shot. While Rutgers had a chance to prevent it from happening on the long inbounds pass, it was a scrum and a lucky bounce off the deflection of who appeared to be Omoruyi. It was an unfortunate break for a team that fought its heart out and honestly deserved better. However, it’s very encouraging that Rutgers played nose to nose with a top 20 team and top five Big Ten team, despite the loss. The RAC faithful brought it tonight and represented very well, also deserved better.
The Big Ten is a meat grinder and Rutgers heads on the road to face no. 11 Michigan State (20-5; 11-3) in East Lansing on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. They played the Spartans hard at the RAC on November 30th, but still lost by 11 points. It will be a monumental task for the Scarlet Knights to pull out the victory, but this team is certainly not lacking confidence.
For Dave White’s four thoughts, click here.