Season-high 26 points from Joe Wieskamp leads Iowa to victory over Rutgers, out of recent slump

The Hawkeyes finally closed out a game in the second half.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa guard Joe Wieskamp dribbles during a menÕs basketball game between Iowa and Rutgers at Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

A second-half lead has been anything but safe for the Iowa men’s basketball team lately.

So when a 14-point Iowa advantage dwindled down to six midway through the second half of Wednesday’s game against Rutgers, Hawkeye fans had reason to be nervous. But those nerves didn’t last very long.

Behind a season-high 26 points from guard Joe Wieskamp, No. 15 Iowa (14-6 overall, 8-5 Big Ten) defeated No. 25 Rutgers (11-7, 7-7), 79-66 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to complete the regular season sweep over the Scarlet Knights.

“I thought it was one of those complete performances,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said of Wieskamp. “I played him in different spots. He made shots when we needed them. He rebounded the ball, he defended. No mistakes. He was really special tonight, no question.”

Heading into Wednesday’s contest, Iowa had lost four of its previous five games, with all of those losses coming despite the Hawkeyes leading in the second half. Rutgers, on the other hand, had won its previous four games.

But neither team could score early in their rematch of a Jan. 2 Hawkeye victory.

Rutgers started 1-of-7 from the floor, and Iowa was 0-of-8 before Wieskamp hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 3-3 heading into the first media timeout. It was one of three first-half 3-pointers for Wieskamp, who finished with five made 3s on the game.

“I know I’m a great shooter and I’m going to continue to shoot it,” Wieskamp said. “Guys are finding me in good positions. Coach is running sets for me to get the ball.”

“I wanted to come out here and play a complete game… I just kept staying with it. Guys were up in my space. They were fouling me all game and I felt like I did a good job of playing through that.”

Wieskamp scored 16 of Iowa’s 34 first-half points, and the Hawkeyes led by nine points heading into halftime.

By the 15:05 mark of the second half, Iowa led by 14 points. A Ron Harper Jr. layup six minutes later pulled Rutgers to within six points. McCaffery then subbed seniors Luka Garza and Jordan Bohannon (who finished with 12 points), who were getting short rest breaks on the bench, back into the game.

“We both wanted to be back in there right away,” Garza said. “Coach turned to us, then we looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s finish this thing out.’ The combination of that and how Joe Wieskamp was playing is what closed this game out.”

Iowa’s next trip down the floor, Garza responded with a second-chance layup to extend the lead to eight points. Minutes later, Wieskamp hit another 3-pointer and Iowa led by 11. After another Garza basket at the 4:25 mark, the Hawkeyes led by double-digits the rest of the way and closed out their 14th victory of the season.

Garza didn’t score until eight minutes had passed against Rutgers, and shot only 2-of-10 from the field in the first half. But he bounced back in the final 20 minutes of play, shooting 60 percent from the field to finish the game with 22 points. The Washington, D.C., native also tied Wieskamp for the team lead with 10 rebounds.

The Hawkeyes needed a strong defensive performance against the Scarlet Knights. And the team accomplished that, holding Rutgers to 21 percent shooting from 3-point range. But more than anything, the Hawkeyes needed to close out a game in the second half after its recent slump.

And Iowa did that, with its veterans leading the way.

“It’s what you hope will happen,” McCaffery said of the performance of his team’s experienced players. “But when you’re talking about Garza, Wieskamp, and Bohannon, it’s what you expect to happen.”

Facebook Comments