IOWA CITY — There certainly was nothing wrong with the way the Iowa basketball team shot the ball Sunday. Far from it.
But some of the other pesky little things that occasionally have popped up to bite the Hawkeyes this season all took a nip at them at some point in their second-round game with TCU in the National Invitation Tournament.
Too many turnovers. Not enough defensive cohesion. Erratic free throw shooting.
All of them combined to punctuate the Hawkeyes’ season with a 94-92 overtime loss to TCU on Sunday in front of an energetic sellout crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes, led by the continued extraordinary play of freshman point guard Jordan Bohannon, rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to get the game to overtime but couldn’t quite complete the job.
“It’s really tough to end our season like that,’’ said Bohannon, who recorded his third consecutive double-double and finished with career highs of 25 points and 13 assists. “If we just take away those turnovers, make some free throws, it would have been a totally different game, especially since we lost by two points.’’
The Hawkeyes shot 54 percent from the field and made 16 of 30 shots from behind the 3-point arc, but the one time the offense floundered was in the overtime period. They turned the ball over on three straight possessions, went nearly four minutes without scoring and fell behind 92-86 with 24 seconds remaining.
The irrepressible Bohannon wasn’t quite ready to quit at that point. He drilled a 3-point field goal from the right corner with 16.5 seconds left to chop the lead in half and after Desmond Bane made two free throws for TCU, Bohannon knocked down a 30-foot prayer with 7.8 seconds remaining to make it a two-point game.
TCU’s Chris Washburn missed two foul shots with 6.9 seconds left and Bohannon came roaring down the court for one last bit of heroics only to have three Horned Frogs converge on him near the right sideline. He flipped it to Cordell Pemsl for an open 17-foot jumper that ticked off the rim as time ran out.
“It was just a shootout, a real shootout,’’ TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “I thought we guarded them pretty well and they shot 54 percent.’’
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he had no issue with the effort level of his team, which finished the season 19-15.
“There's so many things to be proud of with this team all year long, but particularly in this game,’’ he said. “You make 16 threes, you out-rebound the opponent, shoot 54 percent, you're supposed to win. But they got 21 points off those turnovers in the first half and we missed 11 free throws. That just completely changed the game.’’
Peter Jok netted 22 points in the final game of his Iowa career and Nicholas Baer contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. Tyler Cook also scored 16 points, including the basket that sent the game to overtime, but he also turned the ball over seven times.
Turnovers were an especially big issue in the first half. The Hawkeyes gave it away 12 times before halftime.
In the second half, free throw shooting became the problem. Iowa made only 7 of 18 shots at the line after halftime, 8 of 19 in the game.
As a result, it found itself on the short end of a 75-64 score in the middle of the second half. But an 11-2 run in which Bohannon assisted on field goals by four different players, made it a game again.
A 3-point play by Cook gave Iowa a brief 82-81 lead with a minute, 41 seconds remaining, and after the Horned Frogs reclaimed an 84-82 edge, Cook scored inside one more time with 8.2 seconds left to send the game to OT.
“But they were just a better team in overtime,’’ Bohannon said.
Alex Robinson led the Horned Frogs (21-15) with 19 points and 11 assists. Vlad Brodziansky also scored 19 with Kenrich Williams adding 15, Brandon Parrish 14 and Desmond Kane 13.
“We found a way,’’ Dixon said. “We’ve been doing that lately. It’s called growing up.’’
The TCU coach was especially proud of how his young team responded in an environment he described as “unbelievable.’’ Bohannon said the energy generated by the capacity crowd was “unreal.’’
“The crowd was fabulous. It was electric,’’ McCaffery said. “They were all in every possession. I think that's what you appreciate as a player and as a coach. They didn't just cheer when we made a run. They cheered the whole game, every time we did something well, when we got behind, and that's what you need.’’
McCaffery admitted the future is very bright. The only player of consequence he loses is Jok and some of his freshmen played their best basketball the past few weeks. Bohannon had 68 points and 34 assists in the last three games of the season. Cook made the last 18 shots he attempted.
“We’re going to learn not just from this game but from the season as a whole,’’ Pemsl said. “We’ll come back and work this spring to hopefully be playing in the other tournament next year.’’