By Pete Ruden
Iowa was in the thick of it again.
Holding a 64-61 lead against Maryland with 10:59 remaining in the second half, the Hawkeyes had the chance to pick up their first Big Ten win sitting right in front of them.
But as it has happened many times this season, Iowa couldn’t stop a run by the opposing team, and that led to its demise. The Terrapins closed the game on a 30-9 run to defeat the Hawkeyes, 91-73.
In the latter part of the game, though, Iowa was at a big disadvantage.
At the end of the first half, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery was ejected after receiving a double technical.
After two-consecutive no-calls in which Cordell Pemsl took an elbow to the head while setting a screen and Jordan Bohannon got called for traveling after receiving “some” contact, McCaffery, like many fans, had had enough with the officiating.
“I don’t think you ever want to put your team in that position where you give them four free throws, but at the end of the day, we’re fighting, and I’m going to fight for my guys, so that’s what I did,” McCaffery said. “I’m proud of how they competed after that. I thought they fought hard.”
McCaffery’s exit gave control to longtime assistants Kirk Speraw and Sherman Dillard. However, McCaffery’s wasn’t the only exit that hurt the team.
With 6:15 remaining in the second half, Tyler Cook fouled out but not in a typical way.
Cook was issued a technical after Maryland’s Bruno Fernando stepped over him when Cook was on the ground following a charge.
Cook took exception to the taunting, and he and Fernando were assessed technical fouls, but Cook also had the charge called against him, giving him five fouls and taking him out of the game.
While Iowa was efficient from 3-point range, Maryland took advantage of the Hawkeyes’ poor frontline defense.
The Terrapins shot 57 percent from the field and had an astounding 56 points in the paint.
Fernando, especially, had a terrific night to help his team pull out the win. The freshman from Angola recorded 21 points in the victory and piled up 7 rebounds.
Six Maryland players reached double figures, which is a big advantage over Iowa’s two. Only Bohannon and Isaiah Moss got into double figures, something that is becoming common for the Hawkeye offense.
Moss led the way for Iowa, posting 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Bohannon had a solid game, too, dropping 17 points and 5 assists. The duo also combined to shoot 9-of-16 from beyond the arc.
“At the start of the second half, we did some good stuff. I thought Isaiah Moss was terrific,” McCaffery said. “I think we relied a little bit maybe too much on our perimeter shooting, but that was our strength tonight.”
Iowa’s start to conference play isn’t what it wanted, but it has a chance to pick up its first Big Ten win when it plays Illinois on Jan. 11 in Champaign, Illinois.
The Hawkeyes and the Illini are the only teams in the Big Ten without a conference win, but that will change when the two duke it out on Jan. 11.