AMES, Ia. – Aaron White leaned against a wall outside Iowa’s locker room, his words just above a whisper.
Iowa’s junior forward had just scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds.
“That doesn’t matter to me,” White said.
The important numbers Friday were No. 17 Iowa State 85, No. 23 Iowa 82.
“Tough one to swallow,” White said.
On a night when Iowa played resilient basketball, fighting off Iowa State run after run, it all went up in smoke in the final 90 seconds. The Cyclones finished the game on an 8-0 run. And Iowa had no answer, especially at the free-throw line.
“We didn’t make the plays, or the free throws, down the stretch to win the game,” Iowa’s Devyn Marble said.
It was an 82-81 Hawkeye lead with :35.8 remaining when Marble went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one. He missed it.
“Of course I’d like to get it back,” said Marble, who finished with 19 points, six assists and just one turnover. “I missed it. It felt good. That’s what makes it worse.”
And with Iowa down, 83-82, with :13 remaining, Mike Gesell missed both two free throws. He’d missed two all season.
“I know they feel terrible right now,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “But if I could have picked who I wanted to shoot, I would have picked those two guys.”
Instead of a signature road win, against a top 25 foe, one that would have been valuable come Selection Sunday in March, Iowa left Hilton Coliseum with an eighth straight loss to a rated foe in a game that came down to making just one more play.
“There are a handful of plays I’ll be replaying in my head,” said White, who finished two points shy of his career high and recorded his 10th career double-double.
None more than a play when he grabbed his 16th rebound, an offensive rebound after Jarrod Uthoff’s miss with about 50 seconds remaining and Iowa ahead 82-79. DeAndre Kane knocked the ball out of White’s hands, and the Cyclones had life.
“It was a big play in the game,” White said.
The Hawkeyes (10-2) have had great success at the free-throw line all season. Iowa entered the game making more free throws, 254, than its opponents had attempted, 194.
Friday night, the Cyclones turned the tables. They shot 36 free throws to the Hawkeyes’ 24.
Iowa State opened the door of opportunity by missing 13 of them. But Iowa couldn’t take advantage with those three late misses.
And when Zach McCabe’s last-second 3-pointer rattled in and out, White’s career game felt hollow.
“Two great teams, in a great environment,” White said. “They made the plays they needed down the stretch, we didn’t.
“But that can’t take away from this game. It was a battle. They never went away. And we never went away.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball