Tempers flare in Iowa's win
By JASON BRUMMOND
IOWA CITY — Iowa coach Fran McCaffery walked off the court after the win and waved for his team to follow him to the locker room without shaking hands with North Dakota’s players and coaches.
It was a jarring ending to an otherwise vanilla game that the Hawkeyes won 84-73 on Tuesday night.
McCaffery was irritated with what he considered a few unnecessary and chippy plays in the closing moments of a game that Iowa led by 16 points with three minutes to go. North Dakota’s Corey Baldwin tried for a steal and score with only three seconds left when Nicholas Baer was holding the ball to run out the clock and end the game.
“I wasn’t pleased with how the game ended and the things that happened,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think they teach that kind of stuff, but I was not having it. That’s not the way to play.”
McCaffery didn’t give a direct answer when asked what specific plays bothered him.
“Were you at the game?” he said. “Well, then you should know what I didn’t like.”
North Dakota’s players and coaches lined up for the postgame handshake, then looked surprised that Iowa wasn’t there to meet them. Several Fighting Hawks players threw their hands up in frustration.
This was the second game in a row that ended in controversy for the Fighting Hawks. Drick Bernstine and Geno Crandall were ejected with 18 seconds left in an 87-70 loss to rival North Dakota State on Dec. 16 after a tussle under the basket.
“They’re not malicious kids, they’re good kids,” North Dakota coach Brian Jones, a former assistant at Iowa under Steve Alford, said after Tuesday’s game. “They’re just trying to compete until the final horn goes off. That’s all.”
Iowa spokesman Matt Weitzel told The Associated Press in an email on Wednesday that while McCaffery “stands by his concerns regarding some of the unsportsmanlike actions that led to his decision, he has since expressed regret publicly and has apologized to head coach Brian Jones and his team.”
Weitzel said the team considers the issue closed.
North Dakota spokesman Ryan Powell said Wednesday in an email that Jones, when asked for further comment, was “ready to move on.”
Peter Jok and Jordan Bohannon each scored 18 points to help the Hawkeyes (7-5) win their fourth straight. Cordell Pemsl had nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds.
Iowa pulled away with a 16-0 run in the middle of the first half when North Dakota went six minutes without scoring. The Hawkeyes forced eight turnovers on nine possessions during that stretch. Quinton Hooker scored 18 points to lead North Dakota (5-5). Conner Avants added 17 points and Drick Bernstine had 10 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.
Iowa: The inconsistent Hawkeyes did enough to win, but they still have plenty to clean up with the Big Ten opener a week away. Iowa made a season-low five 3-pointers and shot only 68 percent from the foul line.
North Dakota: It’s been a tough month for the Fighting Hawks. They’ve lost three straight and their 17-point loss to North Dakota State last week was their only home game during a 45-day stretch. But North Dakota is expected to be competitive in the Big Sky in its fifth year in the league.
North Dakota’s Cortez Seales played only seven minutes after a first-half collision. Jones said Seales was getting checked for concussion-like symptoms. Seales, from Eldridge, Iowa, scored two points.
Iowa’s Tyler Cook missed his sixth straight game with a finger injury. McCaffery said Cook could possibly return on Thursday, but it’s likely the freshman will be held out until Big Ten opener next week.
Iowa’s Isaiah Moss finished an impressive one-handed dunk after a give-and-go pass from Jok in the final minute of the first half. Moss caught the bounce pass from Jok in transition and jumped over a lunging defender for two of his nine points.
Iowa: Wraps up nonconference play against Delaware State on Thursday with the Big Ten opener against Purdue next week.
North Dakota: Gets more than a week off before it opens Big Sky play at Portland State on Dec. 29.