IOWA CITY- When Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery picked up a technical foul less than four minutes into the game, it looked the Terps might finally avoid another slow start that had been troubling them all year. Leading 6-5, senior point guard Anthony Cowan was sent to the free throw line for five attempts
But Cowan could only convert three of the five (a common theme in the first half) and the home team was suddenly energized. A 14-0 run later in the half gave Iowa a nine point lead, which they ran with on their way to a 67-49 victory.
“It was pretty much our defense. We just let up. Once they got hot, they didn’t cool down,” said Jalen Smith. “We tried to stop them but it wasn’t falling our way.”
The run started with a wide-open corner three by sophomore sharp-shooter Joe Wieskamp. Wieskamp then converted two free-throws, which was followed by a Cordell Pemsl three-pointer (the first of his career). A minute later, Wieskamp made another lay-up and Turgeon called timeout with the Terps trailing by five.
The timeout did little to stop the Hawkeyes momentum. Luka Garza would finish a Pemsl miss and then Wieskamp laid in a transition bucket to cap a 14-0 run. The Terps had arguably their sloppiest offensive stretch of the season, going 0-7 from the field and giving the ball away four times in the run.
In total, Maryland coughed the ball up 12 times in the first half and shot 30 percent from the field. The Terps offensive struggles can be partially attributed to Iowa’s defense. The Hawkeyes combination of 2-3 and 3-2 zone clearly disrupted the Terps rhythm.
“We lost the ball. I don’t have an answer,” said a disappointed Cowan about the turnovers. “It (the zone) really made us have to make shots. And that’s just something we didn’t do tonight.”
The second half went no better for the Terps who struggled to find offensive harmony. A 4-22 number from deep is consistent with how they’ve been shooting but they finished 7-18 on shots around the rim. The 11-20 mark from the free throw line did them no favors. Sophomore Aaron Wiggins went scoreless for the first time in his career, and Eric Ayala had a season-low two points.
“I thought we shot a little quick in the second half. Trying to come back in one possession,” said Turgeon. “We missed some wide open ones, missed some free throws early.
Defensively, Maryland actually gave a stout effort. They forced 18 turnovers and held the Hawkeyes to 37 percent shooting. But, the combination of Wieskamp and Garza was too much for the Terps to handle. The duo combined for 48 points and 24 rebounds
Garza has been a staple down low for Iowa all season, but it was Wieskamp’s career-high 26 points that made the difference. He was an assassin from deep, draining five three-pointers. After his third consecutive 20 point game, McCaffery was not surprised.
“He usually has nights like this. It’s what we expect and that’s what he expects himself,” said McCaffery. “We’re just going to keep going the way he shoots.”
Maryland had a glimmer of hope in the second half after a 6-0 run, capped by a Smith dunk, cut the deficit to 44-34. The Terps had possession, but an errant Cowan pass led to a transition three by Bakari Evelyn and Maryland was buried.
The loss drops Maryland to 0-3 on the road and 3-2 in the Big Ten. While it’s natural to not play your best away from home, this year’s team has been especially poor. They have turned the ball over 54 times in the three road defeats. And after the Iowa disaster, Maryland’s senior point guard didn’t have the answers to the Terps struggles.
“I wish I had the exact answer. This is 100% on us. We just gotta get better on the road,” said Cowan. “We’ve been practicing super hard. Been practicing good. I don’t know what it is on the road.”
Maryland’s road issues will be put to the test in a few days as they travel to Wisconsin. For Mark Turgeon’s team, which has aspirations of a Big Ten title, it needs to prove they can win these kinds of games.
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