Hawkeye Comeback Against Tennessee Falls Short

March 24, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Video & Transcript: Iowa Postgame Interviews

Video & Transcript: Tennessee Postgame Interviews

For the third time in five years, Iowa advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. And as was the case the first two times, the Hawkeyes stalled when they arrived there.

Second-seeded and sixth-ranked Tennessee escaped Iowa , 83-77, in overtime Sunday at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena. The 10th-seeded Hawkeyes came up short of the Sweet 16 for the 20th season in a row.

Iowa (23-12) improved by nine wins this year. Nicholas Baer was the only senior on the squad.

The Hawkeyes rose into the Top 20 of the national rankings in the middle of February with a 20-5 start. They then dropped seven of their final 10 games, including lopsided losses to Rutgers at home, at Wisconsin, to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament and then on Sunday.

Iowa again fell to a much higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. As a seven-seed, it fell by 19 points to No. 2 Gonzaga during the ’15 second round in Seattle. A year later, No. 2 Villanova drubbed the seventh-seeded Hawkeyes by 19.

Sunday’s game wasn’t as lopsided as its last two trips to the Round of 32, however. These Hawkeyes showed inspirational fight.

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Sunday, the Volunteers (31-5) jumped on Iowa early, enjoying a 49-28 halftime advantage. It represented the Hawkeyes’ largest deficit at the intermission this season and Tennessee’s biggest lead ever at the break in an NCAA Tournament contest.

Iowa showed some life coming out of the locker room. A 16-4 run cut its deficit to none points with about 13 minutes remaining in regulation. Tyler Cook scored 11 points and assisted on the other two hoops during the spurt. His personal flurry included a couple of acrobatic baskets attacking the rim.

Tennessee pushed its lead back to 13 points during the next three minutes before the Hawkeyes found another run in them. A Jordan Bohannon three-pointer following a Nicholas Baer offensive rebound pulled them within five points of the lead with 7:54 to play in the second half. They then sliced its deficit to three points on a pair of Luka Garza free throws.

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The Volunteers again responded, pushing their lead to 65-58 with 5:35 on the clock. Iowa wouldn’t fold.

Garza delivered a conventional three-point play and then Isaiah Moss drained a corner trey with the shot clock expiring. The Hawkeyes trailed, 65-64, with 4:23 to play.

The Vols scored on their next trip down the floor for a three-point lead. Iowa tied it up again at 67-67, when Bohannon sank three foul shots after being fouled on a try attempt with 2:39 remaining in regulation.

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Tennessee netted the game’s next four points. The Hawkeyes bounced back with the next four points. Joe Wieskamp’s two free throws off of an offensive rebound tied it at 71-71 with :14.6 on the clock.

The Volunteers called a timeout. Jordan Bone’s three-pointer was long. Wieskamp grabbed the rebound. Time ran out and the teams headed to overtime.

The Hawkeyes’ Cinderella story ended there. Tennessee opened the OT on a 7-0 run. SEC player of the year Grant Williams scored four and Bone knocked down a triple during the spurt. The Vols kept it a two-possession game until the final horn.

Bohannon scored a team-high 18 points, leading Five Iowa players in double figures. Moss (16), Garza (13), Cook (11) and Wieskamp (11) joined him. Wieskamp pulled down seven rebounds and Bohannon contributed six.

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