Fran McCaffery ejected, Iowa loses physical game at Maryland

Hawkeyes fall to 0-5 in Big Ten with 91-73 defeat

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery yells at an official during a home game Thursday against Ohio State. McCaffery was ejected from Sunday's game at Maryland. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery yells at an official during a home game Thursday against Ohio State. McCaffery was ejected from Sunday's game at Maryland. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — At first it appeared the Hawkeyes had picked a good night to face host Maryland — students are still on holiday break and a bitterly cold night left the normally electric Xfinity Center about two-thirds full.

Another good omen for the Hawkeyes came when a layup by Isiah Moss was nearly out of play when it hit the top of the backboard before swishing through the net, giving the Hawkeyes a 22-14 lead midway through the first half.

But Maryland, which recently lost inside players Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender to season-ending injuries, went on a 12-0 run to take a 29-24 lead soon after that.

Things got even worse as Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery drew two technical fouls and was ejected with 44.9 seconds left in the first half and the Hawkeyes fell apart defensively and lost, 91-73, in physical Big Ten Conference play.

“I didn’t want to get tossed. You don’t want to put your team in that position. I am going to fight for my guys. So that is what I do,” McCaffery said. “I am proud of how they competed after that. They fought hard. Our execution was good at times, not so good at other times.”

McCaffery was tossed a few minutes after Iowa forward Cordell Pemsl took an elbow in the face, according to teammate Jordan Bohannon.

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“It was just a weird game; we made some runs,” Bohannon said. “I don’t think I have ever been part of a game like that in my life. A lot of suspect calls each way. It is Big Ten basketball. You just have to play through it. I had a clean block and the ref said otherwise. It was really frustrating.”

Iowa forward and starter Tyler Cook picked up a technical foul with 6:15 left in the contest and fouled out.

“That was unfortunate; it was a bang-bang play,” said McCaffery, who was able to talk to his team at halftime.

Iowa fell to 9-9 overall and 0-5 in conference play.

Iowa was paced by guards Isaiah Moss (25 points) and Bohannon (17) while forward Nicholas Baer had 11 rebounds. Iowa, which made 11 of 21 3-pointers, committed 17 turnovers while the Terps had just nine.

“It helps to see my first shot go in,” Moss said. “We knew it was going to be a physical game.”

“We got fired up,” Bohannon said of the McCaffery ejection. “The assistant coaches stepped up. Obviously Coach was frustrated. We have to let him take care of” the calls.

Maryland (14-4, 3-2) dominated in the paint as forward Michal Cekovsky had all 13 of his points in the first half, center Bruno Fernando added 21 points and seven rebounds and point guard Anthony Cowan had 15 points and seven assists as all five starters scored in double figures, as did reserve Dion Wiley.

McCaffery protested a foul called on junior forward Ahmad Wagner late in the first half. Cowan then hit three of four free throws to give the Terps a 48-42 lead.

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Cowan also came up big down the stretch in the second half as his twisting layup and free throw gave the Terps a 74-66 lead with 7:24 left to play.

That came after Bohannon made a 3-pointer with 10:55 left to give Iowa a 64-61 lead.

But Maryland ended the game with a series of dunks as the Hawkeyes allowed 56 points in the paint.

“I thought we did a lot of good things on the road,” McCaffery said.

“We need to do a better job.”

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