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Men’s Basketball: ND can’t slow down No. 23 Iowa in 98-93 loss

Mike Monaco | Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The atmosphere was everything Irish head coach Mike Brey wanted in Notre Dame’s first away game: a difficult opponent in an equally challenging road environment.

The result, however, left Notre Dame looking for more as the Irish fell 98-93 to No. 23 Iowa at a sold-out and “Blacked-out” Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday night in Iowa City, Iowa.

“They’re disappointed they didn’t get it,” Brey said in a post-game interview with WatchND. “But I just told them I said, ‘I love my team. I love the fearlessness. I love how we kept game pressure on them. And it’s something for us to kind of build on.'”

After the Hawkeyes (8-1) soared through a near-perfect first half, Notre Dame (5-2) responded with a strong second stanza, knotting the game at 71 with 8:17 remaining in the contest. But from there, Iowa never allowed the Irish to lead again.

Notre Dame got within three with 38 seconds remaining and did so again in the final second, but Iowa packed so great an offensive punch that Notre Dame couldn’t counter defensively. Iowa’s 98 points were the most allowed by the Irish in regulation since Nov. 2008, when North Carolina scored 102.

“It was going to be an offensive kind of game,” Brey said. “These are two good offensive teams that had a hard time guarding each other a lot of the night. They just were harder to guard than us for longer periods of time.”

Notre Dame lost despite a career-high 29 points from Irish senior center Garrick Sherman, the most by a Notre Dame player since 2011.

“The game that Garrick Sherman had, establishing himself, he needs to be a main guy,” Brey said.

Irish senior point guard Eric Atkins poured in 23 points and fellow senior guard Jerian Grant added 13 points and 10 assists. Five Hawkeyes scored in double figures, as Iowa shot 56.9 percent from the field and connected on seven of 13 3-pointers.

“We’ve got to be better defensively,” Brey said. “Our transition defense really cost us probably the game. We just couldn’t get back enough to stop easy buckets.”

Iowa led 52-43 at the intermission after playing much of the first half at a breakneck pace, pushing it quickly in transition and scoring a flurry of fast buckets. The Hawkeyes led by as many as 11 in the first period, despite Sherman’s best efforts. The big man poured in 18 first-half points on 7-for-10 shooting to keep Notre Dame close.

But Iowa had its way throughout the opening stanza and drilled 19 of its 33 field goals, good for a 57.6 percent clip. Nine different Hawkeyes scored in the first 20 minutes – though no player reached double figures – and junior center Gabriel Olaseni tallied nine points and five rebounds while junior forward Aaron White added eight points. Iowa’s 52 points were the most allowed by Notre Dame in the first half since 2003.

Trailing by nine at the intermission, Notre Dame stormed out of the gates in the second half, quickly exploding on a 14-3 run to claim a 57-55 lead – its first since leading 9-7. Atkins capped off the spurt with a difficult left-handed layup.

“I just loved our fearlessness of – after taking big punches in a tough road atmosphere – coming back and keeping game pressure on them,” Brey said.

But Hawkeyes senior guard Roy Devyn Marble – the team’s leading scorer – burst out for 13 consecutive points as Iowa squad reclaimed the lead, 68-62.

Notre Dame tied things at 71 with 8:17 remaining when freshman guard Demetrius Jackson buried a right-wing three. The Hawkeyes, though, then ran off five straight points and never gave up the lead again.

The Irish return to Purcell Pavilion on Saturday to host Delaware at 4 p.m.

Contact Mike Monaco at [email protected]