Michigan's Second-Half Struggles Lead to Loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Michigan men's basketball team suffered a 69-61 Big Ten loss Saturday afternoon (Feb. 14) at Iowa. The Wolverines (13-8, 4-6 Big Ten) played well for the majority of the game, coming back from a nine-point deficit in the first half to establish a 32-28 lead after the first 20 minutes of play. But Iowa's improved three-point shooting in the second half was a problem for the Wolverines, who began to have problems scoring from the field. Jeff Horner proved to be a thorn in Michigan's side as he hit 15 of his 20 points in the latter half to help reestablish the lead for the Hawkeyes.

Numerous Michigan players turned in good performances, including wingman Lester Abram (Pontiac, Mich./Northern HS), who led Michigan in scoring with 13 points and a career-high 10 boards, coming up with the first double-double of his young career. Abram showed good clutch shooting, coming through for the Wolverines at the free throw line, hitting 7-for-8 attempts for the afternoon.

Guard Dion Harris (Detroit, Mich./Redford HS) was the only other player to reach double digits for Michigan, scoring 10 points with the help of three triples. Harris' 30-minute performance went beyond hitting buckets, as he dished off two assists and came up with three steals. Bernard Robinson Jr. (Washington D.C./New Hampton Prep, N.H.) contributed his usual performance, scoring nine points, bringing down six boards, handing off two assists, and grabbing two steals.

The Wolverines trailed for the majority of the first half, falling early to the Hawkeyes. After a bucket by Brown to kick off the contest, Iowa jumped to a quick 11-6 lead with 14:55 on the clock. Turnovers became a weakness in Michigan's game, as the Wolverines accumulated nine in the first 7:20 of play. Despite trouble early on, the Wolverines were having success going to the post, relying on points in the paint to keep them in the game. With Iowa holding an 18-11 lead, the tides turned as Michigan began to fight its way back into the game.

After five points from Iowa's Pierre Pierce, the Wolverines began to keep pace. Michigan went on an 18-5 run for the remainder of the half, putting on a zone defense that threw off the Hawkeyes, who had trouble getting the ball inside. Iowa began forcing three-point attempts, going just 2-for-10 from behind the long line for the half.

The Maize and Blue spread the ball around for the remainder of the half with seven different Wolverines contributing to the run. Harris hit the first triple for Michigan with 4:46 left on the clock to put the Wolverines within two (25-23). Iowa came back with three to maintain its lead, but a three-point basket from guard Daniel Horton (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill HS) and perfect free-throw shooting from Abram, Robinson, and guard Sherrod Harrell (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central HS) gave Michigan its first lead of the afternoon going into the locker room (32-28).

The second half began with a head-to-head battle between the two teams that kept the score close. Back-and-forth scoring maintained the Wolverines' small lead for the first 9:30 minutes of play. Michigan had to fight to keep up with Iowa's good shooting as the Hawkeyes caught and surpassed the Wolverines with a triple well beyond the three-point line for a 41-40 lead. Michigan stayed alive thanks to a putback slam by forward Brent Petway (McDonough, Ga./Griffin HS) to put the Maize and Blue back on top with 11:35 remaining.

Problems arose for Michigan when the Hawkeyes began sharp shooting, hitting 5-for-7 from the field and going 2-for-2 from the line in a four-minute stretch. That run compared to Michigan's three free throws proved the difference, putting the Hawkeyes on top 56-45 with 7:16 left in the contest.

The Wolverines were not bowing out as Petway came back with his second slam of the half to decrease Iowa's lead to nine. A foul at the three-point line hurt the Maize and Blue, however, as Iowa's Brody Boyd hit 2-of-3 from the stripe to keep the distance between the two teams. Both Iowa and Michigan took turns in scoring to maintain the Hawkeye lead at 10 (60-50) with 4:06 left to play.

Michigan struggled with shooting throughout the half, hitting just three shots from the field until a two-point jumper from Robinson made the score 60-52 with 3:35 remaining in the game. The bucket sparked a drive with the Wolverines, as they made an attempt to regain control of the game as the clock ticked down. Harris came through again, swishing a triple to put the Wolverines the closest they had been to the Hawkeyes since they were down by five at the eight-minute mark.

With the score at a 62-57 Iowa lead, the Hawkeyes began to make key violations resulting in the ball going over to the Wolverines. Michigan was unable to capitalize, however, and there just was not enough time for the team to establish a drive. With the clock ticking down, Michigan was forced to foul time and again, and the Hawkeyes went 7-for-11 from the stripe to secure the 69-61 conference win.

After playing six of their last eight on the road, the Wolverines return home for a four-game homestand. The Maize and Blue will take on Penn State Wednesday (Feb. 18) at Crisler Arena. The game is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tipoff and will be aired live on WFUM (Flint), channel 24 on Ann Arbor's Comcast cable, and will be tape delayed on UPN-50, airing following the completition of the Detroit Pistons game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Contact: Tom Wywrot (734) 763-4423

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