With Amir Coffey out again after aggravating his injured shoulder, the shorthanded Minnesota Golden Gophers gave up 57 points in the second half to the Iowa Hawkeyes and dropped their seventh game out of the last eight, losing 94-80 despite getting season highs from Davonte Fitzgerald and Isaiah Washington.
The Hawkeyes (12-12, 3-8) shot 61 percent in the second half and finished with all five starters in double figures to earn their third Big Ten win, matching Minnesota (14-10, 3-8), which has spiraled toward the conference’s cellar since losing Reggie Lynch to suspension and Coffey to injury.
Starting guards Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer combined to shoot 4 for 21 and 1 for 11 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Iowa perimeter players Jordan Bohannon and Isaiah Moss scorched the nets with 36 points on 11-for-21 shooting with eight combined 3-pointers.
The Gophers bounced back from an 11-1 deficit to start the game and eventually took a three-point first half lead at 21-18, but the Hawkeyes ended the first half nicely and had a strong start to the second half from which Minnesota couldn’t recover.
Iowa turned a 37-33 halftime advantage into a 50-37 lead by the 16:49 mark of the second half on Moss’s 3-point shot, and Minnesota couldn’t pull any closer than four the rest of the way. The Hawkeyes were in the clear after a late 7-0 run, featuring one of Moss’s four treys that propelled them to an 81-68 lead.
Surprisingly, it was Minnesota’s usually-ineffective bench that kept them in it. Washington, the freshman who’d had his minutes reduced of late, came through with 15 points, his sixth double-figure game. Washington’s jumper with 6:34 to go cut the deficit to 70-66 before the Hawkeyes took over.
Fitzgerald, still trying to find a rhythm after missing two straight seasons, made a career high four 3-pointers — all in the second half — to notch 16 points of his own.
Of the Gophers starters, Jordan Murphy was the only one to hit double digits, securing his 20th double-double of the season with a rugged 21 points and 17 rebounds. He was back in his normal position after being asked to play the 5-spot when Minnesota sent out a small lineup in their recent loss to Northwestern. With Michael Hurt and Bakary Konate re-inserted to give the lineup some size, Murphy had more success.
Alas, it turned into another painful second half as the Gophers were outscored after halftime for the seventh time in eight games.
Their NCAA Tournament hopes are nearly extinguished.
The Gophers play their fifth of six away from home as they take on 24th-ranked Michigan at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.