NEW YORK, NY – A city known for the world's greatest plays will see an encore presentation from the Iowa basketball team.
Iowa's first act included a big lead off Maryland turnovers, the second act included a sluggish near-intermission. The Hawkeyes then sizzled in a third act to a 71-60 win last night in an NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden.
The Hawkeyes (25-12) will face Baylor (22-14), a 76-70 winner over BYU, at 8 p.m. Thursday for the NIT championship.
Devyn Marble scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Iowa. It was the fourth straight game Marble scored at least 20 points. Iowa scored 27 points of Maryland's 17 turnovers. Iowa committed eight but produced just two Maryland points.
Iowa was in control throughout the game and knocked down big shots each time Maryland put up a run. The biggest came with 59.4 seconds left when senior Eric May drilled a 3-pointer from the top the key to put the Hawkeyes up 69-60. Aaron White finished off the scoring with a pair of free throws with 45.2 seconds left.
It was tight at times in the second half. Iowa started strong and a May steal and dunk gave the Hawkeyes a 47-35 lead. Then Maryland chipped away on a 10-2 run, highlighted with a Nick Faust 3-pointer to cut its deficit to 49-45.
Then Maryland continued its turnover-prone ways, giving up the ball on three straight possessions. Iowa took advantage, scoring seven consecutive points to take a 56-45 lead.
Maryland twice tightened the gap to five points in the last five minutes, the last when Alex Len scored inside with 3:03 left.
Marble hit one of two free throws to push Iowa up six. Then a Maryland miss and a foul by Wells – his fifth – put May on the line. May hit both free throws to give Iowa a 66-58 lead.
This is Iowa's seventh trip to the NIT but first semifinal appearance. Maryland finished 25-13.
The Hawkeyes gained control early, scoring on five of their first six possessions to take an 11-4 lead before the first media timeout. Iowa extended its lead to 14 points with 5:13 left in the first half on an May free throw. Iowa led by 10 with 1:28 left in the half on a pair of Marble free throws.
Maryland rallied late, first on a Logan Aronhalt 3-pointer. Then, when Iowa looked for a final shot, Marble's 3-point attempt was rebounded by Pe'Shon Howard, who sent the Terrapins in a fast break. Dez Wells finished with a power dunk to cut Maryland's deficit to 38-33 at halftime.
Marble continued his torrid scoring pace, putting up 12 points in the first half. He added five rebounds.
The Hawkeyes tied the 2005-06 team for the second-most wins in school history with 25.