Abysmal offense haunts Hawkeye hoops in loss to Rutgers

No. 22 Iowa struggled to find any sort of rhythm offensively against Rutgers on Saturday, shooting 36 percent from the field.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon lays the ball up during a men’s basketball match between Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, March 2, 2019. The Hawkeyes, celebrating senior night, fell to the Scarlet Knights, 86-72.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

No. 22 Iowa’s offense averages 80 points per game and shoots 46.6 percent from the floor.

In the 86-72 loss to Rutgers on Saturday, the Black and Gold scored 8 points fewer than its average and shot an abysmal 36 percent.

“Rutgers did a really nice job of disrupting us, that’s what they always pride themselves on doing,” Iowa forward Nicholas Baer said. “They played pretty physical, and unfortunately we weren’t able to knock down some shots.”

The Scarlet Knights caught fire, shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and hitting 11 of their 23 attempts from 3-point range.

Ron Harper Jr., who prior to Sunday had a 26.4 3-point shooting percentage, knocked down four of his seven attempts from long range in his 27-point outing. Teammate Issa Thiam drained four of his six attempts as well.

It was just a matter of Iowa not being able to keep up with a furious Rutgers scoring outbreak.

Baer scored a team-high 17 points to lead Iowa’s charge offensively and teammate Jordan Bohannon scored 15.

The Hawkeye bigs faired well; Tyler Cook and Luka Garza combined to make nine of their 14 shots and score 16 and 10 points, respectively.

It was the outside shooting, though, that just wasn’t clicking against the Scarlet Knights.

Bohannon (4-for-12), Isaiah Moss (0-for-3), and Joe Wieskamp (1-for-7) struggled all day to find rhythm. Entering the Rutgers contest, the trio averaged 5.5 made triples per game. In the loss, the three Hawkeyes made just three 3-pointers (all from Bohannon) and shot 23.1 percent from long range.

Specifically, Moss’ output capped a woeful three-game stretch. In the past three games (Indiana, Ohio State, and now Rutgers), Moss has scored a combined 9 points – 6 against the Buckeyes, 3 against the Hoosiers, and 0 against the Scarlet Knights.

Despite shooting 1-for-15 during the three-game span, Moss hasn’t lost the confidence of the Iowa coaching staff.

“I don’t think there’s a secret to getting him going,” assistant coach Andrew Francis said. “Isiaah continues to work, and we continue to encourage him – continue to take the shots we know he can make… I think a couple times this game, he had a couple looks he didn’t take. If you’re open, shoot it. No one is going to get mad at Isaiah Moss for shooting the basketball – he’s a great shooter.”

Prior to its second game against Iowa, Rutgers allowed 3-pointers to fall at a 36.3 percent clip, ranking 291st in the country – 13 percent worse than its defense against the Hawkeyes.

“I thought at times we took good shots and at times we took rough shots,” Baer said. “Unfortunately, Rutgers was able to knock down a lot of shots today – credit to them for being able to shoot well.

“We were launching a little bit but that’s what happens when you’re scrambling in a game.”

At one point, the Hawkeyes’ offensive woes dug them into a 20-point deficit in the second half, where field-goal percentage dipped from 37.5 in the first to 34.4 in half No. 2.

“As the game went on, it got away from us,” Bohannon said.

Bohannon said after the game that he didn’t want to make excuses, but that sometimes nights like Saturday’s performance come late in the season thanks to the rigorous conference slate.

“We’re missing free throws, we’re missing bunnies. I thought I had a lot of good looks in the second half… just a weird night shooting-wise. It happens like that though, especially at the end of the year. Legs starting to get a little tired, not to have that excuse, but it’s just what’s happens, especially in the Big Ten. You see that across the board. I know we’re going to be okay, we just have to stay focused.”

Next up, the Hawkeyes travel to Madison, Wisconsin, to take on the Badgers in a 6 p.m. contest on March 7.