IOWA CITY — You make your first 10 shots from the floor and go 71 percent there in the first half.
Somehow you manage to fall behind — by as many as 13 points, no less — in the second half. But, again in the somehow department, you have a good look to win the game in the final seconds and another to tie it and send it to overtime.
This is Iowa basketball 2017-18, so, of course, neither of those shots drop. No blowout loss this time around, but a loss just the same, 84-82.
That’s number five in a row for the sinking Hawkeyes, who are 12-17 overall and 3-13 in the Big Ten Conference.
“All of our high school teams and AAU teams were winning titles, or winning AAU circuit games. Losing isn’t really in our DNA,” said Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon. “But without losing, we wouldn’t be here where we are today. Battling through adversity, working through times where it feels like there’s no light, these are the times when we have to keep digging, keep fighting. We know it’s right there, but sometimes it takes longer for a team to find it. We can’t fold.”
Indiana guard Robert Johnson tied a school and Carver-Hawkeye Arena record with nine 3-pointers in this one, but he missed a one-and-one free throw with 23 seconds left to allow Iowa a final opportunity. With nothing going in their half-court offense, the Hawkeyes called a timeout with nine seconds to go.
The ball got to Maishe Dailey near the corner, he drove and kicked quickly back out to Bohannon, who whirled and fired ... off the rim. Cook gathered the rebound outside the paint on the baseline but a rushed putback came up short.
He sat dejectedly on the court for a few seconds before joining the handshake line.
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“We were looking for Tyler down low, obviously, but they were guarding him pretty well,” Bohannon said. “We tried a backscreen for Luka (Garza), and they covered that pretty well. Maishe came to the ball like he was supposed to, made a good penetration move, and I try and get the ball in that situation. I feel like I got a pretty good shot off for the time we had left ... I’ve made that shot hundreds of thousands of times in practice and what not.”
“Even if there’s five people on him, he’ll make it,” Dailey said. “I didn’t want him to hang his head after that shot, because we’re all comfortable with him shooting the ball.”
Bohannon didn’t score until nailing a 3 with 8:46 left, content to distribute. He did a lot of that early, as his team rolled to a 23-10 lead on an Isaiah Moss bucket off an Indiana turnover.
That was Hawkeye consecutive make number 10.
“They shot 71 percent for the half. You couldn’t shoot 71 percent in shootaround,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “It was the forceful way they were playing.”
Indiana hung around via the 3, trailing only 45-42 at the break, then went ahead via the 3. Johnson skewered Iowa’s zone defense with a trio of triples to put the Hoosiers ahead, 72-59, with 11:06 left.
Do the math there, and that’s 30 Indiana points in a little less than nine minutes. Johnson finished with 29 points, Devonte Green adding 18, including four treys.
“They shot the hell out of the basketball, so you’ve got to give credit where credit is due,” Cook said.
“We just weren’t as active in the zone as we needed to be,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said. “Our closeouts were not effective enough. It was pretty obvious who was hitting shots. It was two guys ... So you’re going to close out differently on them than anybody else. For some reason, we never figured out you can’t stop short. You just can’t. We just kept doing it, and that was extremely frustrating.”
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But Iowa rallied, finally catching Indiana at 82 on a pair of Cook free throws with 1:50 left. Still that score, Freddie McSwain Jr. got what turned out to be the winning points on a cut through the lane and dish from Green.
Cook then missed on a power move inside, forcing Iowa to foul. It did, sending Johnson to the line, where he missed.
You know the rest.
“We’re not at a place where we’re just going to throw the towel in,” Cook insisted. “It’s far from it.”
“There have been a lot of tough losses,” said Garza, who had 17 points. “No one has really lost like this before in their high school careers, or even last year. It’s different. But we’ve got a lot of strong and strong-minded guys that are going to keep working.”
Iowa plays Wednesday night at Minnesota.
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