By Pete Ruden
Iowa didn’t want to be done. After falling to Michigan twice in the regular season, the Hawkeyes had a solid chance with a halftime lead and overtime to take down the defending Big Ten Tournament champions and keep their season alive for another day.
But Michigan ended Iowa’s hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth with a 77-71 win on Thursday in Madison Square Garden.
It didn’t always look like the Wolverines would pull out the win, though. Iowa led 40-35 at half and seemed to have some momentum after going into the break with a pair of free throws.
Michigan made strides in the second half, going on an 11-0 run to start the final 20 minutes. Iowa didn’t hit its first field goal until 5 1/2 minutes elapsed.
With Iowa trailing by 3 with 16 seconds left, Jordan Bohannon hit a huge 3-pointer to send the game into overtime and give Iowa another chance to come out on top.
After getting out to a quick 2-point lead in the extra period, the Hawkeyes were outscored 10-2 to finalize the heartbreaking defeat.
“I was proud of the way we came back,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a release. “I am proud of the way the guys executed. Even the shots that we missed in overtime that would have given us a chance to win was great execution, and they were good shots by good shooters.”
A big reason Iowa had a lead at the break was the difference in 3-point shooting. Michigan went 0-of-7 from behind the arc in the first half and started 0-for-12, while the Hawkeyes were 5-of-9 in the first.
The Wolverines took advantage of Iowa’s weak defense in the paint, scoring 48 points inside, good for 62 percent of their points.
Neither team had anyone stand out extensively on the offensive end, but both squads finished the game with four players in double figures.
Charles Matthews dropped a game-high 16 points for the Wolverines, while Zavier Simpson had 12. Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson rounded out the double-digit scoring for Michigan by scoring 11 each.
On the other side of the court, Iowa was led by Ryan Kriener in an unlikely turn of events. Kriener had 14 points, 1 shy of his career high. Tyler Cook and Luka Garza both scored 14, and point guard Jordan Bohannon had 11 on 3-of-14 shooting, a rough night from the floor.
The Wolverines are a much more experienced team than the Hawkeyes. Juniors and seniors flood Michigan’s roster, while Iowa starts all freshmen and sophomores.
“Iowa is right there,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said. “I mean, they’re right there. Just a little young.”
The loss caps off a disappointing season for Iowa; the Hawkeyes were widely expected to make the NCAA Tournament in the preseason.
“Even though the season didn’t go as we hoped, these guys never quit on the staff, the staff never quit on them, and most importantly, they didn’t quit on each other,” McCaffery said in a release. “We kept grinding and trying to get better. You could see it, especially the last few games.”