Hawks let No. 23 Minnesota escape
MINNEAPOLIS – Iowa was in position for a big win on the road against a ranked team, a border-state rival no less.
But the Hawkeyes stumbled again in the end, and coach Fran McCaffrey was seething after the late collapse.
Austin Hollins hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left, lifting No. 23 Minnesota to a 62-59 victory over Iowa on Sunday.
“We blew an opportunity today,” McCaffrey said, lamenting the free throw shooting (10 for 17) and critical turnovers and soft defense in the closing seconds.
Hollins finished with 17 points to help the Gophers (17-5, 5-4 Big Ten) survive a rough second half and escape the scrappy Hawkeyes (14-8, 3-6).
“This is another one we should’ve won,” said junior Roy Devyn Marble, who went scoreless for the first time in almost two years. “We’ve got to find a way to make it happen. We’ve been down this road already.”
With Minnesota trailing 59-57, the 6-foot-4 Hollins came off a double screen at the top of the key to get open in the corner on an inbound play and swished the shot over 6-foot-1 Mike Gesell.
“They were behind. They were looking for the first open shot. We’ve got to get up in his space,” McCaffrey said. “That’s disappointing. You can’t give him three there.”
Hollins then hounded Gesell in the corner on the other end to force the ball out of bounds.
“Minnesota stepped up defensively. Give them credit. But we didn’t execute the way we should,” Gesell said.
Andre Hollins, who had 15 points, made two free throws to stretch the lead to three, and Gesell’s tying attempt rolled off the front rim. Gesell finished with 11 points, and Aaron White and Zach McCabe each had 10 points for the Hawkeyes. Before Gesell’s miss at the buzzer, they turned the ball over on their previous two possessions. They didn’t score over the final 2:10 of the game.
“It hurts a lot,” McCabe said.
Joe Coleman had 12 points despite five turnovers for Minnesota. Rodney Williams added 10 points and had two of the team’s seven blocked shots.
The Gophers surged ahead 14-2 behind their full-court press, but Josh Oglesby and McCabe came in off the bench to help Hawkeyes begin to crack the pressure by finding and making open shots on the wing.
McCabe hit consecutive 3-pointers in a 31-second span to bring the Hawkeyes within 19-18, and the game was tight the rest of the way.
Neither team led by more than four points in the second half. Iowa went up 54-50 with 5:13 remaining when White – coming off a career-high 27 points Thursday in a win over Penn State – soared into the lane over Trevor Mbakwe for a three-point play.
The Hawkeyes later had a chance to build on a 56-53 lead with a fast break but missed three shots inside. Instead, the Gophers got the ball and found Williams free for an uncontested dunk on the other end with 2:39 left that brought Minnesota back within one.
Six of Iowa’s eight losses are to teams currently in the Associated Press Top 25, so at least there’s some room to breathe after a brutal start to the conference schedule.
The Hawkeyes play at Wisconsin on Wednesday, always a tough place to win, but six of their last eight Big Ten games are against teams in the bottom half of the standings, with a combined 14-42 record in league play entering Sunday.