An impressive post season run ended with a lopsided loss as the Iowa Hawkeyes fell to Baylor 74-54 in the championship game of the NIT in New York City. Cold shooting plagued the Hawkeyes all night long as they made only 18 of 69 shots in the game.
Iowa got to within one in the second half but the Bears took control with a quick 8-0 run as they raced away to the victory. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says going into halftime he felt they were fortunate to only be down by 5 and thought they could get back into it by making a second half run. He says too many shots did not fall as they shot only 27% in the second half.
McCaffery says the struggles on offense affected the Hawks on the defensive end as he says Baylor is a terrific offensive team. But he says the struggles on offense then impacted their attention on defense.
The Hawkeyes made only five of 24 from three point range. “We shot a few too many threes, normally we are a team that has more assists per basket…we were content to try and get it back with a three, and you can’t do that against a team that is this good,” McCaffrey says.
Mike Gessel led Iowa with 13 points. Aaron White added 12 and Eric May had eight in his final game in a Hawkeye uniform. “We didn’t play the way we played to get here. The team basketball we played to get to this point and how successful we were, we got away from that,” May says.
May says he was hoping to end his career with a victory. “It’s just tough to go out like that, I knew it was going to be an emotional night either way, but you don’t want it to happen like that,” May says.
May says the run to the NIT title game was a good way to cap his senior season and says a lot about the team. May says the future for the program is bright. “I’m really excited to watch these guys play and I don’t think many teams are going to want to play Iowa next year,” May says.
Iowa ends the season with a record of 25-13.