The game was much closer than the final score of 75-63 might have indicated. The Hawkeyes seemed unable to pull away from the Stony Brook Seawolves, but the fans are not going to remember the somewhat sloppy play of the Hawkeyes. They will only remember the outcome, which results in Iowa’s third trip to the NIT Quarterfinal round in matchup with either Virginia or St. John’s.
From the beginning, it seemed like the Hawkeyes were going to come out strong and dictate the pace of the game. Sophomore Aaron White put down a dunk that set Carver into an early frenzy. However, they let the pace of the game slow down and were never able to quite pull away from Stony Brook. The Hawkeyes even trailed towards the end of the first half before Josh Oglesby drained a 3-point with 3 seconds left in the half to give Iowa a 37-34 halftime lead.
Stony Brook came out of the half by draining a 3 pointer, but Iowa never backed down and with 5:56 left in the game was able to build a double-digit lead for the first time all game and essentially cruise the rest of the way. The way that Iowa was able to play a close game and close it out is a positive sign for both the team and the fans going forward into next season, especially after their poor record in close games this season.
“We are learning and a young team,” White said. “We took care of business down the stretch. It shows a lot of maturity for this team. We were taking care of the ball.”
Going into the half, Stony Brook was out-rebounding Iowa 16-13 and had a 9-2 advantage in second chance points. That all turned around for the Hawkeyes who ended the game with a 34-30 rebounding advantage and a plus-2 in second chance points.
What may be been the biggest turning point for Iowa was the ability to completely shut down the scoring of Stony Brook Guard Dave Coley who had 11 points at the half but was only able to collect 1 point in the second.
“We paid attention to him early,” Coach Fran McCaffery said. “In the second half, we played him hard again, we played him tough, and he was just off a little bit.”
As was the case with the first round game against Indiana State University, Roy Devyn Marble came up huge for the Hawkeyes, scoring 28 points and shooting 50% on the night. Marble now has 52 points in the NIT tournament this season.
“He was phenomenal tonight,” McCaffery said of Marble. “He handled the ball, got the to free throw line. He set the tone in a lot of ways.”
Stony Brook was a team known for its defense and Iowa was able to solve it. Stony Brook came into the game ranked third in the nation allowing opponents only a 37.5 field goal % per game, Iowa ended at 47.3%. Stony Brook was 12th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 57 points per game, Iowa ended up with 75.
This discrepancy can be accounted for by the fact that the teams had never faced each other and only had one day to prepare. Still for an Iowa team that has had its fair share of low scoring affairs, they were able to crack open the stingy Stony Brook defense.
The most sentimental moment of the night came when Senior Eric May was taken out of the game and shared a hug with McCaffery when he got to the bench. May, more than anyone on this team, has seen the ups and downs that this program has endure in the last four years. If the next game happens to be on the road, May was able to get his last home win in front of a pack Carver Hawkeye, something that would have been unthinkable just two seasons ago.
Depending on what happens on Sunday with Virginia and St. John’s, Iowa may have another home game with St. John’s or will travel to Virginia. Regardless, these Hawkeyes are not going to sneak up on any of the teams they will play the rest of the way. Iowa’s motto about the NIT has been that they might as well win it if they are in it and with the way this team is coming together and growing with each game, winning the NIT would not surprise anyone.