DES MOINES - The 3-point shot was part of their undoing in a frustrating loss to the Panthers last season.
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes turned the tables.
Burying 12 of 25 from behind the arc - including a 9-for-16 performance in the first half - the Iowa men's basketball team served up a bit of a role reversal in dispatching Northern Iowa 80-73 in the inaugural Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
University of Iowa junior Roy Devyn Marble (4) salutes his teammates on the bench after making his third 3-pointer of the first half in Saturday’s game against Northern Iowa at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Marble scored a venue-record 30 points to help the Hawkeyes hold off the Panthers, 80-73 in the inaugural Big Four Classic.
Hitting 4 of 9 from deep, Roy Devyn Marble propelled the Hawkeyes with 30 points as Iowa won their fourth straight improving to 9-2.
Marble, who finished one point shy of his career-high and set a venue record for the most points scored in a Division I men's basketball game, buried back-to-back treys to cap a pivotal 11-2 surge for the Hawks.
Marble's third three of the opening stanza - Iowa's seventh in the first 12 minutes - gave the Hawkeyes their largest lead in the first half at 31-20 with 8:15 to play. A 30 percent 3-point shooting outfit coming into the contest, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery felt the offensive outbreak from long range was a long time coming.
"I was really surprised that we had some games where we hadn't shot it well. I felt like we had multiple 3-point shooters and we saw that today," said McCaffery. "The way they defend - they really close hard on penetration and wall off the basket. You're going to get open shots, you just have to make them."
The Panthers had the first part of the equation, but couldn't finish the job.
Firing at a 38 percent clip from long range this season, UNI connected on just three of 16 and failed to find its touch despite some quality looks.
"I felt like for the most part in the early part of the game we were getting what we wanted in the half-court and transition. We certainly had some pretty good looks at 3 that didn't go in for us," said Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson, whose squad held a 30-point advantage (33-3) from deep in last year's 80-60 rout at Cedar Falls.
UNI had similar trouble tracking down Mike Gesell, who drained four of his six 3-point attempts and poured in a career-high 23 points. Gesell, who recently moved to shooting guard in the lineup, hit consecutive triples before Zach McCabe added another leading up to the Hawkeyes' decisive run.
"Certainly the difference in the first half, and maybe the difference in the game, was that early stretch with Marble and Gesell," said Jacobson.
Preceding the Hawks' surge, senior guard Marc Sonnen picked up his second foul and played just 21 minutes in the game.
"He's our leader. He's our best defensive guard," said Jacobson, who felt Sonnen's absence influenced his team in several ways.
"More from an emotional and defensive standpoint, not having him on the floor impacts how our team plays."
Iowa's 40-32 advantage at halftime could have been larger if not for 13 turnovers that the Panthers cashed in for 14 points. Iowa limited itself to just two miscues in the second half, though UNI still made a charge.
Seth Tuttle's 3-point play on a reverse layup brought the Panthers within 59-55 with eight minutes remaining, but the Hawks quickly responded. A jumper from Melsahn Basabe, his only bucket of the game, and a triple from Aaron White spurred a 7-0 spark for the Hawks.
The Panthers later trimmed the deficit to five on three occasions, the last coming on a slashing layup from Deon Mitchell at 74-69 with 34 seconds left. Mitchell, who finished with a team-high 23 points, fouled out on the ensuing play as the Hawks iced the game at the line. Iowa held a hefty advantage from the stripe hitting 26 of 37 attempts - including 14 of 19 from Marble, while the Panthers made 14 of 17.
Sparking the offense, Marble also brought energy to the defensive end while playing three different positions in 37 minutes of work.
"What was amazing with him is that I didn't rest him very much and he seemed to have an incredible energy level the entire time," said McCaffery.
"He guarded a lot of different people, stuck his nose on the glass, and it just looked to me like he was determined for us to win the game."
Marble, who is steadily incorporating the long ball more into his game, found plenty of ways to produce Saturday.
"It opens up a lot. Once I start making shots they had to play tighter and closer and then I go around them," said Marble, who was coming off a 2-for-10 shooting effort against the Cyclones.
"Against Iowa State I felt I was a little too relaxed and letting them do what they want to do. Today, I said I'm going to do what I want to do."
Seth Tuttle had 18 points and nine rebounds, while Anthony James had 15 points for UNI (6-4), which saw its three-game win streak snapped.
The Hawkeyes, who host South Carolina State Wednesday at 8:06 p.m., continue to find new faces stepping to the forefront as Marble is one of five different players to have led Iowa in scoring this season.
It's a major reason why the Hawkeyes are off to their best start in four years.
"I think it's the key to our team," said McCaffery. "That's what good teams do. You have 10 or 11 guys that you can play in different situations depending upon the opponent and the style of play - and effectively take advantage of it."
A venue record crowd of 13,180 was in attendance for the Big Four Classic ... Iowa's 12 3-pointers were the second-most by an Iowa team in McCaffery's tenure ... Marble went 14-of-19 from the free-throw line, the most by any player under McCaffery. Both are Wells Fargo Arena records for Division I men's games ... The Panthers face UNLV on the road Wednesday at 9 p.m. ... Iowa senior Eric May had a career-high seven assists ... Iowa improved to 14-2 when scoring 80 points or more over the past three seasons.