The 30-foot desperation shot failed to draw iron, and Jacob Young stayed down for a few extra seconds.
Myles Johnson came over to help his Rutgers teammate, as Iowa players celebrated around them.
Slowly, the two Scarlet Knights walked to the sideline.
After No. 14 Rutgers painfully fell two points short, a top-10 ranking will have to wait. No. 10 Iowa was just too good when it mattered on the offensive end, executing like an experienced Final Four contender can and rallying for a 77-75 victory at the RAC.
Keegan Murray’s offensive rebounds and two free throws with 14.1 second left for the Hawkeyes (9-2, 3-1 Big Ten) made the difference in this memorable game that tilted back and forth like a see-saw. On the other end, Johnson lost the ball on his way up, and Young’s heave fell short for the Scarlet Knights (7-2, 3-2).
Ultimately, Rutgers’ calling card — stingy defense — let it down. Iowa scored 30 points in the final 8:59, 15 of those coming from National Player of the Year favorite Luka Garza, who finished with a game-high 25. The Hawkeyes scored on six of their final seven possessions, slicing up the Scarlet Knights’ usually suffocating defense. Over the final 6:59, there were five ties and 12 lead changes.
Ron Harper Jr. blocks a shot for Rutgers.AP
Young led Rutgers with 17 points and Johnson, Geo Baker, Montez Mathis and Ron Harper Jr. each had 13 as the Scarlet Knights’ starters scored all but six of their points.
The first half was a tight affair, highlighted by stingy defense, missed shots and mini-runs. Iowa led by as many as six, after a 10-0 run, only for Rutgers to answer with a 9-3 burst to get even by the half.
Neither team shot well, but both defended enough to not let the other create separation.
Rutgers got the better of play early in the second half, containing Garza and mostly keeping the Hawkeyes to one shot. The Scarlet Knights took their largest lead, 50-43, on a Baker 3-pointer with 12:36 remaining. But again, the Hawkeyes punched back, reeling off 10 straight points to forge ahead, 57-54, after two Joe Wieskamp free throws with 7:22 left.
That set up a dizzying finish, with the two teams trading haymakers in the middle of the ring like a pair of fighters refusing to accept defeat. It just so happened that Iowa landed the last punch.
Originally published at https://nypost.com/2021/01/02/rutgers-misses-chance-at-top-10-ranking-with-painful-loss-to-iowa/ on .