IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa withstood three Fairfield comeback
tries in the final 9½ minutes to reach the final of the Hawkeye
Greg Brunner had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead Iowa (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today; No. 14 AP)
to a 75-59 victory over Fairfield on Friday night.
Iowa coach Steve Alford praised his team's resilience, but found
plenty of room for improvement.
The Hawkeyes (5-1) were careless with the ball, turning it over
20 times, and impatient down the stretch. They were the flaws that
prevented Iowa from closing out Fairfield until late in the game.
"This was a hard-fought game," Alford said. "We got up by 10
points, and then our shot selection was poor and we allowed them to
get some open 3-pointers and get back in the game. We really need
to be more patient and take care of the ball."
Iowa advanced to the Saturday's championship game against
Valparaiso, a 79-72 winner over Tulane. The victory also improved
Iowa's record to 46-1 in their annual tournament.
The Stags (0-4), undersized but persistent, kept the game close
by forcing nine steals and hitting key 3-pointers.
But Fairfield coach Tim O'Toole said the biggest difference in
the game was his team's inability to muster any offense inside and
hit medium-range jumpers. Despite shooting 42 percent from behind
the 3-point line, the Stags shot just 16 percent (6-of-38) inside
"We just couldn't get it in there and muscle with them,"
O'Toole said. "Unfortunately, we didn't shoot the ball well
Three times in the final 9½ minutes the Stags got within
striking distance, but the Hawkeyes stopped each comeback attempt
before pulling away in the final 3 minutes.
Iowa's miscues and missed opportunities allowed the Stags to
remain in contention early in the second half. A pull-up jumper by
Haluska gave Iowa a 51-40 lead at the 12:12 mark, but a long jumper
by Bell and a 3-pointer by Han on the next possession cut the lead
The pattern was repeated six minutes later after Brunner hit a
free throw to put Iowa up by 12, only to see the Stags hit
back-to-back 3-pointers to close within 59-53 with 6:04 to go.
A 3-pointer by Han with 3:33 left pulled Fairfield within five.
A minute later, Horner stepped in front of a pass and raced down
court for a layup to put Iowa back in front 67-58, and the Hawkeyes
held on down the stretch.
"You have to give Fairfield credit," Haluska said. "They
played like they had a chip on their shoulder and they never gave
Fairfield came into the game shooting 38 percent, but found the
mark in the game's opening minutes, building a 13-7 lead on a pair
of 3-pointers from Bell and Van Schaick.
As the half progressed, the bigger, more physical Hawkeyes began
to pull away. Relying on their inside game and Brunner, the
Hawkeyes outscored Fairfield 17-3 during an 8-minute stretch.
Erek Hansen's turnaround baseline jumper with 3:17 left in the
half gave the Hawkeyes their biggest lead, at 28-19.
But the Stags rallied in the final minutes and Van Schaick's
buzzer-beating 3-pointer, launched 3 feet beyond the half-court
line, closed the gap to 32-29 at the break. Fairfield shot 44
percent from 3-point range in the first half and made just two
field goals inside the line.