23 turnovers. 38 offensive rebounds surrendered. 34 fewer shot attempts.
Raise your hand if you thought a team would ever win a basketball game with that stat line. And against a ranked team, no less. No one?
In perhaps the strangest game ever played in Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa defeated #17 Maryland 66-61 despite the aforementioned numbers. Sometimes, stats lie.
Offensively, the game started about as well as it possibly could for Iowa. The Hawks hit their first 6 three-pointers, and were getting good looks at the basket too. Midway through the second quarter Iowa led 38-24. Maryland couldn’t stop the Hawks on defense, and Iowa’s own 2-3 zone was causing the Terrapins fits.
But as good as the score looked for Iowa, there were underlying concerns. First, Iowa couldn’t keep shooting as well as it was the entire game. Then there was rebounding. As good as Iowa’s defense was initially, Maryland was dominating Iowa on the offensive glass. The Terps had 13 offensive rebounds in the first quarter, and kept grabbing them in the second. And those rebounds and subsequent put backs were keeping Maryland in the game.
Also of concern was Maryland’s press. The Terps are a lanky, athletic team, and their traps in the back court and just across caused Iowa some problems. If the traps got tougher, or if Iowa lost focus, turnovers might pile up.
The next 22 plus minutes were a horror for the Iowa offense. The Hawks went completely cold from the field, and as they started forcing things, they also started to turn it over more against Maryland’s press. In those 22 minutes, Iowa scored just 14 points.
Miraculously, though, with 4 minutes remaining in the game, the score was still tied at 52. During the Hawkeye cold stretch, Maryland still grabbed a ton of rebounds. It scored put back after put back. But they still couldn’t beat Iowa’s 2-3 zone on the initial possession. Or hit anything from three. And that meant Iowa was still in the game.
The Hawks took advantage. After the teams traded quick buckets, Alexis Sevillian hit an open three and a pull-up jumper from the elbow to give Iowa a five-point lead with a minute and a half to play.
Maryland finally got another basket, then Kathleen Doyle drew a foul and hit two free throws with 49 seconds remaining. The Hawks then got another stop and finally grabbed a defensive rebound, before icing the game with free throws.
Doyle led Iowa with 21 points, including going 5-6 from the line. Makenzie Meyer nearly matched her, scoring 20 points and adding 6 assists. Both struggled with turnovers in this one, but so did every Iowa guard that touched the floor. Sevillian was the final Hawkeye in double figures with 15. The crazy box score from tonight’s game is here.
Toughness has been a defining trait for Iowa’s past two seasons, and it looks like it is for this season, too. It would’ve been easy for the players to get down on themselves in the midst of their cold shooting stretch. Or after Maryland got a few turnovers from the press. Or defensively after any one of those 38 offensive rebounds. But Iowa kept battling, and they were rewarded with a home victory over a ranked opponent.
Monika Czinano had her most difficult game of the year, scoring only 4 points and fouling out in just 15 minutes of action. She’s been better than Iowa could’ve hoped this year, but this was a terrible match-up for her. Czinano still has a ways to go in rebounding and defense, and Maryland took full advantage of her weaknesses in both areas. It’ll be interesting to see how she adjusts when these teams play again in a little over a month.
Despite not scoring a basket in the game, Amanda Ollinger was the game’s MVP for Iowa. The senior had 9 rebounds, 8 blocks, and 4 steals. She was a force defensively, and made sure the offensive rebounding numbers for Maryland weren’t worse by either grabbing the boards she did or tipping balls out to her teammates.
Larger Meaning of the Win
It’s still early in the Big Ten season, but this was a huge win for Iowa. Maryland is clearly down this year from what they have been, but even still they're one of the conference’s best teams. Iowa, meanwhile, was predicted as a bubble team at best to start the year.
Thus far, the Hawks have blown that prediction out of the water. This win shows that Iowa can compete for a conference title. For another Top 25 finish. And with recruiting already going better than it has in years, that’s really good news, both in the short and long term. It’s a great time to be an Iowa fan.
Iowa’s next game might actually be tougher than this one. They return to action on Sunday, January 12 at 4 PM CT at home against #12 Indiana. The Hoosiers are 4-0 so far in the Big Ten, and look like the conference favorite. Win that one, and things get really interesting really fast in conference. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.