IOWA CITY — Iowa’s men’s basketball program would have celebrated an 87-63 win against South Dakota three years ago with nothing but applause.
Tuesday night, the victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena showed both perseverance and holes in the Hawkeyes’ game moving forward. Iowa pounded the Coyotes in the paint 54-15 and knocked down 17-of-19 free-throw attempts. But the Hawkeyes (7-2) also were exposed defensively in the first half in giving up six 3-pointers.
“Offensively we played really well,” said Iowa’s Devyn Marble, who scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished three assists with two steals. “It may be the best offensive game we played this season.
“Defensively we came out slow. Our press didn’t work the way we wanted it to. So we switched it up. We ran a different one, and that one was clicking. Then we really picked it up in the second half.”
South Dakota (4-5) hit five 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes and tied the game 22-22. The Coyotes hung with Iowa, trailing just 30-29 with five minutes left in the first half. Iowa’s press defense was out of sorts.
“We practice it in practice and stuff like that,” Marble said. “That’s not an excuse, but that’s one of the reasons why some of their shooters got better looks than we would have wanted.”
Then Iowa took off and left the Coyotes in the dust. The Hawkeyes went on a 15-0 run, paced by dunks from Marble and Aaron White. Mike Gesell and White each hit a pair of free throws. Adam Woodbury scored inside, and Melsahn Basabe was fouled near the basket, made the shot and hit the ensuing free throw. The run ended with Anthony Clemmons feeding Gesell with a pass near a basket.
Iowa then adjusted to South Dakota’s perimeter shooting in the second half, holding the Coyotes to just 3-of-9 from 3-point range.
“Coach came in with the statistics and added to the game plan,” said White, who scored a game-high 21 points. “We really shut down the 3-point line in the second half, and I think that’s a good sign for us because that’s what they were doing in the first half. We made an effort to stop that, and we did that.”
Clemmons started his second consecutive game at the point and was solid. He finished with eight assists and no turnovers, added a steal and scored four points in 21 minutes. Sophomore Gabe Olaseni played perhaps his best game with eight points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 11 minutes.
Iowa also dominated near the basket, outrebounding South Dakota 50-31. But the Hawkeyes hit just 2-of-16 3-point attempts and missed their first 10.
Yet Marble isn’t concerned with Iowa’s perimeter offense.
“I had two that went right in and out,” he said. “I didn’t say my blessings this morning. That’s probably why. I’m not worried about it.”