DAYTON, Ohio (MCT) — The Iowa basketball team rediscovered the defensive energy and fight Wednesday night that made it a Big Ten contender in January and early February.
But it wasn’t quite enough to breathe new life into a sagging season.
Jordan McRae scored 20 points, Jarnell Stokes 18 and Josh Richardson 17 as Tennessee rallied in the second half and defeated the Hawkeyes 78-65 in overtime in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at Dayton Arena.
Iowa (20-13), playing in the tournament for the first time in seven years, lost for the seventh time in its last eight games.
The Hawkeyes never trailed until 3 minutes, 6 seconds remained in the game. They managed to send the game to overtime when Devyn Marble drained a 17-foot jumper with 17.9 seconds remaining but the overtime was dominated by the Volunteers (22-12).
The Hawkeyes scored only one point in the extra period and actually ended up losing by the most lopsided score all season.
“We played our hearts out tonight,’’ said Iowa center Adam Woodbury, who scored a career-high 16 points and collected eight rebounds. “Everybody in (our locker room) knows that. They made some threes by guys that don’t ordinarily hit them. The chips just didn’t fall our way tonight.’’
While Woodbury had perhaps the best game of his career, Marble wasn’t as fortunate. The Hawkeyes’ first-team All-Big Ten pick scored just seven points on 3-for-15 shooting. At one point in the second half, he was 1 for 11.
However, five of his points came in the final minutes, including the game-tying shot at the end of regulation.
“I felt like one of them has to go in,’’ he said of the shot. “I shot well all season. I shot the ball well in the shootaround. I knew one had to go in.’’
Marble turned his ankle on McRae’s last-gasp attempt to tie the score, though, and he was on the bench getting it taped when a Stokes three-point play and a baseline drive by McRae gave the Vols the upper hand in the overtime. They finished it off by making nine of 10 free throws the rest of the way.
Tennessee finally caught up and tied the score at 37-37 on a 3-pointer by Richardson with 14:24 to go, but Woodbury scored quickly at the other end to regain the lead.
Tennessee finally took the lead (59-57) on a 3-point field goal by Antonio Barton with 3:06 remaining.
Marble took back the lead with a three-point play and after two Stokes free throws, Woodbury scored to give the Hawkeyes a 62-61 lead.
A Jeronne Maymon basket and a Stokes free throw with 25.5 seconds left gave Tennessee the lead before Marble scored to tie it at 64-64. McRae missed a long jumper as time ran out in regulation.
Tennessee, which is third in the country in rebounding, dominated the boards at times in the second half and finished with a 37-30 edge in that department. The 260-pound Stokes had 13 rebounds.
“In the second half, they got us on the glass, which is always a concern when you play this team,’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
“It’s disappointing because of how hard we fought,’’ Iowa forward Aaron White added. “I think we came through a lot of adversity this season.
“We came in here with the right mindset. We started this game with great defensive intensity.’’
In addition to Woodbury’s big game, Iowa also got 10 points from freshman Peter Jok, who has not even played in some games during the second half of the season.
“I’d trade all those points and all those rebounds for the win,’’ Woodbury said. “I feel so bad for those guys that won’t ever be able to put on the uniform again.’’