Iowa sophomore forward Melsahn Basabe failed to break out of his early-season slump, but his team still found a way to prevail Saturday, unlike the previous two games.
Senior guard Matt Gatens led four Iowa players in double figures with 22 points as the Hawkeyes held on to defeat Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne 82-72 before an announced crowd of 9,904 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa won for the first time in three games despite Basabe only scoring two points for the third consecutive game. He picked up two early fouls in the first half and only played 11 minutes overall.
Iowa also had to overcome a 25-point performance by 6-foot-5 junior Frank Gaines, who made 10-of-14 shots from the field. IPFW pulled to within three points in the half, but couldn’t get any closer than that.
“We needed it, not only just to get a win, but to get a little confidence back,” Gatens said. “They were a good team. They had a guy who could score pretty much at will. He’s a good player, and they had some shooters and an inside presence.
“So it was a good test for us. And it was good to see us come back and overcome the other night and get a win.”
Gatens was referring to Wednesday’s 77-61 loss to Campbell at home. That loss came three days after Creighton crushed Iowa 82-59 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“It wasn’t a perfect game, but we still got the win,” said sophomore guard Devyn Marble, who provided a spark by scoring 11 points off the bench Saturday. He also scored 14 points off the bench against Campbell.
“I’m just becoming more aggressive and looking for my shot a little more,” Marble said. “I’m just playing hard.”
Iowa improved to 4-2 heading into Tuesday’s game against Clemson at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game is part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
“We need every win, but I think this was good for our confidence going into the Big Ten/ACC Challenge,” Marble said.
Iowa also needs Basabe to get back on track. The Glen Cove, N.Y., native averaged 11.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season, which earned him a spot on the Big Ten all-freshmen team.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery put Basabe back in the game late in the first half even though Basabe had two fouls.
“I thought he needed to get going a little bit,” McCaffery said. “His history has been if he sits 16, 17 minutes, it really takes him a while to get going in the second half.
“I thought he came back and gave us some quality minutes in there (in the second half).”
Basabe scored his only points in the second half on a basket with 10 minutes, 41 seconds remaining.
Fellow starter Eric May also was held to just two points while playing 11 minutes. May only took two shots in the game, one in each half. He missed his only shot in the second half and then became reluctant to shoot after that.
“He was done shooting after that,” McCaffery said.
Iowa received a boost from senior center Andrew Brommer, especially on defense. Brommer led the Hawkeyes with three steals. He also scored five points and grabbed four rebounds while playing 21 minutes off the bench.
“I thought in all honesty he was the difference in the game because what he did was he gave us a defensive post presence,” McCaffery said of Brommer, who missed three games this season with a knee injury. “He has the three steals. He always seems to be in the right place.”
McCaffery shuffled his starting lineup for the first time this season, with sophomore forward Zach McCabe replacing senior center Devon Archie, who was hampered by a wrist injury from the previous game.
McCabe seized the opportunity by scoring 12 points and matching Brommer with three steals. It marked the third time this season that McCabe has scored in double figures.
“I thought we had to make some change,” McCaffery said. “But it was easy because Archie sprained his wrist in the previous game. He didn’t practice much. He’s hurting a lot.”
Brommer said his knee still bothers him at times, but he’s learned how to play through the pain.
“I’ve shown I can play through it and I don’t think it will be a problem,” Brommer said. “I’m fine to start the game. It’s just that when I’m in the game there is usually a play or two where I tweak it and somebody will hit me.
“That’s just the position I’m in. I’m down in the trenches so I’m going to get hit. I’ve accepted that. So I just need to play through that and I feel like I have.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball