By Adam Hensley
Hawkeye men’s basketball opened the Cayman Islands Classic with a loss on Nov. 20, dropping its first game of the tournament to Louisiana, 80-71.
Iowa made a push in the second half, but a 20-point halftime deficit proved to be too deep of a hole for the Hawkeyes to scale.
In the first half, the Hawkeyes shot at a 25.9-percent clip (7-of-27 from the field). The Ragin’ Cajuns’ 51.6 percent doubled Iowa’s shooting. Iowa made a lone 3-pointer in the first half and was down 37-17 — the second-lowest point total in a first half under head coach Fran McCaffery since 2013, when the Hawkeyes “managed” to score 14 against Indiana.
Iowa outscored Louisiana, 54-43, in the second half, but it was a matter of too little, too late.
Isaiah Moss led the scoring charge for Iowa, netting a career-best 24 points in the loss (22 in Iowa’s second-half surge). Jordan Bohannon added 24, but no other Hawkeyes scored more than 9 points.
“I thought Jordan and Isaiah really got into the flow,” McCaffery said in an interview with Hawkeye Sports.
Moss landed in foul trouble (4 fouls) but managed to cash in at the free-throw line, hitting all 10 of his attempts. He also connected on a pair of 3-pointers.
Starting forwards Ahmad Wagner and previous Big Ten Freshman of the Week Luka Garza failed to score a single point. Tyler Cook rounded out the scoring for the starting five, dropping 6.
“We need to get better play from our frontcourt guys,” McCaffery said in an interview with Hawkeye Sports.
Garza, who nearly posted two-straight double-doubles in as many games, earned a stat line of 0 points, 5 rebounds (1 offensive), 2 assists, and 2 turnovers in only 12 minutes of action.
Iowa’s bench scored only 20 points. Louisiana held Brady Ellingson scoreless. Jack Nunge scored 9 points off the bench (28 minutes), and Cordell Pemsl added 4 points and 8 rebounds in 18 minutes.
Four Ragin’ Cajuns scored at least 14 points. Iowa could not stop Louisiana’s dribble penetration, and it scored 48 points in the paint.
Louisiana went on a 20-3 run at one point during the first half, smothering Iowa’s offense while taking advantage of missed Hawkeye shots.
Overall, the Hawkeyes turned the ball over 15 times, while assisting on 10 buckets, a steep decrease from Iowa’s 20 assists (on 25 field goals) against Grambling State on Nov. 16. Bohannon and Nunge each turned the ball over four times.
The Hawkeyes struggled to get to the free-throw line in the first half. Iowa only took four shots from the stripe, making a pair. In the second half, however, Iowa took 22 free throws, sinking 19.
Iowa now looks to South Dakota State. The Hawkeyes and Jackrabbits will clash on Nov. 21 at 11 a.m.