Gophers fall to Hawkeyes 86-77 despite 30 points from Dawson Garcia

Gophers fall to Hawkeyes 86-77 despite 30 points from Dawson Garcia

The Big Ten historically has not been about a run-and gun style of play. It’s more rugged and physical basketball in the half court where size wins over speed.

For the second straight game, the Gophers men’s basketball team was overmatched inside and struggled mightily to score until playing through the post. But it was a bit too late.

Dawson Garcia finished with 30 points to lead the Gophers, but a second-half comeback fell short in a 86-77 loss Monday night against rival Iowa at Williams Arena.

The Gophers (12-5, 3-3 Big Ten) have now suffered back-to-back losses after a seven-game winning streak ended last week. They hadn’t lost at home since falling to Missouri on Nov. 16.

Garcia finished with his second 30-point game this season, which included his career-high 36 points in a Dec. 3 loss at Ohio State. The 6-11 junior shot 9-for-17 from the field and 12-for-15 from the foul line.

Joshua Ola-Joseph added 15 points. Cam Christie had 10 of his 12 points in the second half, but the Gophers allowed Iowa to score 56 points in the paint and shoot 60% from the field in the second half.

The Hawkeyes (11-6, 3-3) led 59-47 midway through the second half when Garcia scored 12 of his team’s next 15 points to keep the Gophers within striking distance. Pharrel Payne’s only field goal of the game made it 67-62 with just under five minutes to play.

It would be much closer than the 74-62 loss against the Hoosiers last Friday, but the game seemed eerily similar. After not getting much scoring punch from the backcourt, the Gophers had no choice but to go inside. The only difference this time was the offense was Garcia or nothing.

Payne, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds at Indiana, had just three points in 14 minutes against the Hawkeyes. Johnson said entering Monday’s matchup that he was considering starting the 6-9 sophomore, but the Gophers went their smaller lineup for most of the night.

Outside shooting was again atrocious with the Gophers going 5-for-29 from three-point range.

But fast-break offense seemed to work early. Less than two minutes into Monday’s game, the home crowd erupted when Gophers highflier Joshua Ola-Joseph slammed an alley-oop pass from Elijah Hawkins after one of Iowa’s four quick turnovers.

Johnson’s game plan was to force the bigger Hawkeyes to adapt to his up-tempo style, which helped Minnesota jump out to a big early advantage.

The fast-paced Gophers got off to a great start to lead 14-3 after Garcia’s layup four minutes into Monday’s contest. The Hawkeyes were initially rattled, but they took control with a 25-6 run behind Ben Krikke, who had 12 of his 25 points in the first half.

Josh Dix, who replaced an injured Patrick McCaffery in the starting lineup, also added 21 points for the Hawkeyes, who led 39-32 at halftime.

After the border rivalry was pretty even a decade ago, Iowa has won seven of the last eight games in the series, including five in a row.

Home wins against Nebraska and Maryland didn’t prepare the Gophers enough to do battle with the bigger and physically tougher Hoosiers and Hawkeyes. Playing fast might not be a sustainable offense for the Gophers moving forward in the Big Ten.