Maryland men’s basketball unable to contain offensive clinic from No. 5 Iowa in third consecutive loss

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Forward Keegan Murray sprinted up the floor with time winding down in the first half after Aaron Wiggins missed a deep three. Murray meandered his way around the Terps’ defense crossing halfcourt as he found a crease towards the left side of the basket. He then used the space and converted a lefty layup off the glass, extending Iowa’s lead to 44-26 at the half.

That sequence capped off a dominant final 12:51 of the first half where Iowa (10-2, 4-1 B1G) outscored Maryland (6-6, 1-5 B1G) 35-7 en route to a commanding 89-67 victory. It was also one of many plays that highlighted the Hawkeyes’ offensive clinic throughout, highlighted by both precision passing and exquisite perimeter shooting.

Iowa shot 54% from the field overall and 50% from behind the arc with a lethal inside out attack that showed why it is one of the top scoring teams in the nation. Senior Luka Garza finished with 24 points, including 17 in the first half, headlining the Hawkeyes’ dominant offense. Maryland was outscored 44-16 in the paint, oftentimes settling for contested perimeter jumpers unable to solve the Hawkeyes’ zone defense.

“Tonight [Iowa] zone’d us and we have no low post presence especially against the zone,” head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s kind of hard, it’s a very unusual team. A very unusual set of circumstances. Give [Iowa’s] zone some credit on that.”

However, to start the game, it was Maryland’s offense that was firing on all cylinders. Less than two minutes into the game, Eric Ayala and Hakim Hart each knocked down a wide-open triple to give the Terps an early 6-0 lead. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery promptly called a timeout and laid into his team for their porous perimeter defense giving Maryland open looks.

After the timeout, Maryland’s offense continued to find success converting seven of its first 10 shots, including three from behind the arc. With 12:51 remaining, Wiggins grabbed a contested rebound as he beat two Hawkeyes to the ball and banked in a layup extending Maryland’s lead to 19-9.

That double-digit lead was short lived, as Maryland didn’t score for the next 8:28, unable to both protect the ball and solve Iowa’s defense. During that stretch, the Terps missed 11 consecutive shots and turned the ball over five times. 

“Tonight shots didn’t fall, it’s tough,” Wiggins said. “Their zone, they kind of tried to keep us from getting in the paint and when you have a guy like [Luka Garza] and [Jack Nunge] with their size they clogged the paint. They’re taking up space, when you get in the paint, you have to know what decision you’re going to make. You have to know who’s open and guys have to be in their spots.”

As the Terps were unable to take the lid off the basket, Iowa’s lethal offensive attack found its groove both in the paint and on the perimeter. Connor McCaffery and Jack Nunge began the run with back-to-back threes, while Nunge and Murray added easy scores inside to tie the score at 19.

Iowa didn’t stop there, as it strung together 10 more unanswered points flipping a 19-9 deficit to 29-19 lead with a 20-0 run. Donta Scott ended the prolonged scoring drought with a three from the wing, but then Garza took over the Hawkeyes. The talented big man scored six consecutive points, which once again pushed the Hawkeyes’ lead to double-digits and it remained that way for the remainder of the game.

“We missed every shot against the zone and decided we weren’t going to run back hard enough and [Luka Garza] got some in transition,” Turgeon said. “We had some soft fouls in there, the last eight minutes of the first half we just let the game get away from us.”

Trailing by 18 to start the second half, Maryland needed to replicate its offensive firepower from the opening few minutes. Wiggins briefly provided that with 10 points in the first five minutes of the second half that slightly trimmed Iowa’s lead to 15. However, the Terps’ momentum was short-lived as the Hawkeyes immediately answered with a 7-0 run, which ballooned the lead to 22. 

That timely shooting for Iowa continued as Maryland struggled to cut into the lead. After the Terps cut the lead to 17, guard Jordan Bohannon answered by draining two of his six threes on the night, which gave the Hawkeyes an additional cushion. On the ensuing possession, Joe Wieskamp cut backdoor behind Maryland’s defense for an easy layup, another play that symbolized Iowa’s offensive fluidity all-night.

Now trailing by 25 with 11:55 remaining, Maryland’s offense mounted a brief answer, but the Hawkeyes once again responded behind their prolific shooting. With Iowa sustaining a commanding lead, Turgeon inserted freshman guard Marcus Dockery who impressed in his limited minutes with eight points, including back-to-back threes.

Maryland continued to fight down the stretch, but ultimately Iowa’s double-digit lead remained for the entirety of the second half. The Terps have another challenging test awaiting them as they travel to face No.12 Illinois on Sunday night in Champaign.