By ADAM JUDE
Special to the Register
EUGENE, Ore. – In a place that prides itself on being “Track Town, USA,” the Iowa men’s basketball team suddenly found itself in the middle of a track meet Sunday.
Roy Devyn Marble and the Hawkeyes sprinted out of the blocks, only to see Oregon reach the finish line first.
Now, the Hawkeyes’ season is simply finished.
Oregon ended Iowa’s unlikely postseason run with a 108-97 victory in the second-round of the National Invitation Tournament, spoiling the Hawkeyes’ best offensive performance of the season before a crowd of 8,647 at Matthew Knight Arena.
It was the highest-scoring regulation game between Division I teams this season.
Marble, a sophomore wing, hit his first seven 3-point attempts and finished with a career-high 31 points, helping the Hawkeyes (18-17) score a season high in points.
“Offensively, we can’t play any better,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.
Defensively, however, the Hawkeyes haven’t been any worse this season.
Third-seeded Oregon (24-9) shot 72 percent from the field in a 61-point second half, and 59 percent from the field overall. The Ducks’ 108 points were three more than Indiana scored in a win over the Hawkeyes on Jan. 29.
E.J. Singler had 25 points to lead Oregon, which advances to the NIT quarterfinals and a third meeting with Pac-12 rival Washington on Tuesday.
Seventh-seeded Iowa built a 15-point lead midway through the first half, but Oregon raced back and cut its deficit to 51-47 at halftime. The Ducks needed a little more than three minutes to tie it up in the second half at 58-58 on a Devoe Joseph three-pointer.
Oregon center Tony Woods added a basket a couple minutes later to give Oregon a 62-61 lead, and the Ducks never trailed again. They led by as many as 12 in the second half.
“It seemed like they were making every shot,” McCaffery said. “We were trying to mix in the press and the zone and the man (defenses) and try to find something to work, but our effort level wasn’t what it needed to be. I thought we were a little tired, we were in a little foul trouble, and (Oregon) really got going.”
Marble was 15-for-48 (31 percent) this season from 3-point range. He finished 7-for-8 from long range Sunday and 10-for-15 overall.
“I know I can shoot the ball,” said Marble, who had never made more than two 3s in a game before. “I know a lot of people think that’s not my strong point, and statistically I would not blame you for saying that. But I know I can shoot the ball, and I’ve been working on it.”
Freshman post Aaron White had 22 points and eight rebounds, Melsahn Basabe had 17 points before fouling out, and Bryce Cartwright added 12 points, 10 assists and four steals for Iowa.
Senior Matt Gatens, in his final game, had seven points on 3-of-10 shooting.
After their first postseason victory since 2003 in last Tuesday’s first-round win at Dayton, McCafffery said the Hawkeyes are heading into the offseason with some momentum.
“We’ve come a long way,” the second-year coach said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores who have played really well all season, and also today. So we’re very optimistic about where we’re headed.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball