Saint Louis 58

(2-10, 1-4 away)

(16) Iowa 67

(12-1, 10-0 home)

    8:05 PM ET, December 31, 2004

    Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa

    1 2 T
    SLU 29 2958
    #16IOWA 27 4067

    Top Performers

    Saint Louis: I. Ohanon 17 Pts, 6 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    Iowa: P. Pierce 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast

    Pierce pours in 24 to lead Hawkeyes

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Pierre Pierce made sure a feisty opponent didn't ruin everything the Iowa Hawkeyes have accomplished so far.

    Pierce scored 24 points and led a late 10-0 run that enabled Iowa (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today; No. 16 AP) to finally pull away from surprisingly stubborn Saint Louis for a 67-58 victory Friday night.

    Adam Haluska added 13 points and Jeff Horner had 12 for the Hawkeyes (12-1), who had been hoping for a breezy tuneup for Wednesday night's Big Ten opener against Michigan. Instead, they played their worst first half of the season and had to dig themselves out of a hole against a team that was missing two starters from a lineup that wasn't especially potent to begin with.

    "A loss tonight would have really spoiled our nonconference season," Pierce said. "That would have really put a damper on what we've done. Fortunately, our team pulled together and picked it up in the second half."

    For much of the game, the Billikens (2-10) outhustled Iowa on the boards, controlled the tempo and took advantage of numerous offensive lapses by the Hawkeyes. As a result, Saint Louis led 39-34 after two straight baskets by Justin Johnson less than 4 minutes into the second half.

    A 12-2 run that included 3-pointers by Pierce and Haluska pulled Iowa ahead to stay, but the Hawkeyes couldn't put the Billikens away for good until the final 5½ minutes.

    "That's the first team that I felt just flat outworked us for a 20-minute frame," Iowa coach Steve Alford said. "Teams have beaten us this year, but as far as outworking us, that hasn't happened very often.

    "That was the challenge at halftime. I thought after that, it was more like what we've been doing all year."

    Iowa shot 56 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Billikens by two after Saint Louis built a 20-10 edge on the boards in the opening 20 minutes.

    Still, with less than 6 minutes to play, Iowa led just 52-51. Horner then hit a 3-pointer from the left corner and that seemed to ignite the Hawkeyes. Pierce scored the next six points on two layups and a jumper, and Haluska followed with a free throw to make it 62-51 with 2:53 to play, enough of a cushion to hang on.

    "They didn't play like a 2-9 team," Pierce said. "They played very hard and very physical. We were able to match that in the second half and pull away."

    Izik Ohanon led Saint Louis with 15 points and Anthony Drejaj scored 14. The Billikens, coming off a 16-point home loss to Southeast Missouri State, played without leading scorer Reggie Bryant (eye infection) and starting center Tom Frericks (concussion).

    Greg Brunner had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Iowa.

    "It just hurts so bad to be 2-10. It's miserable," Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg said. "And yet, we got embarrassed on Wednesday night against an in-state team and to the credit of the players, they came back the next day with only one day to prepare for Iowa and they had to their heads on right.

    "We played well. But I also think it was hard for Steve to get his kids up to play us, to play a team that's 2-9 right before they start their conference season."

    Pierce was the only Iowa player consistent throughout. He finished 11-for-18 from the field and made some tough shots with defenders in his face.

    "That's just a great athlete," Soderberg said. "He's got Kobe-esque moves sometimes. That's just a better athlete going over a lesser athlete."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 58 67
    FG Made-Attempted 24-63 (.381) 23-47 (.489)
    3P Made-Attempted 2-15 (.133) 6-15 (.400)
    FT Made-Attempted 8-14 (.571) 15-19 (.789)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 14 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 5 10

    2004-05 Season

    » Dec 31, 2004 @IOWA 67, SLU 58Recap