The Iowa United, in their first appearance in The Basketball Tournament, fell short against the hometown Wichita State alumni team last night.
From the moment the Wichita State alumni team (appropriately called the AfterShocks) stepped onto the court for last night’s first-round matchup against the Iowa United in The Basketball Tournament, the atmosphere was electric. And for the most part, despite a few big runs by the Iowa United, the crowd kept the arena rocking all night.
That was just one challenge facing the Iowa United last night at Charles Koch Arena.
There were also injuries leaving them without shooting guard Peter Jok, grizzled veteran Marcus Fizer, and bouncy point guard Wes Washpun.
And then there was the officiating, which was borderline atrocious throughout the night. While I am not one to blame the officiating often, the lack of calls against Wichita State was downright ridiculous given the ticky-tack nature of foul calling on the other end.
One play, in particular, stands out more than most though. With former NBA player Cleanthony Early driving to the basket, Drake’s all-time leading scorer Reed Timmer reached in to swipe the ball. Early responded by trying to throw a punch in Timmer’s direction. Although little to no contact was made, there was almost no way around the acknowledgment of intent there, but I’ll let you decide after watching this clip.
Yet, despite all of that, the Iowa United didn’t just hang in there against the second-seeded AfterShocks, they were leading for significant chunks of the game. More impressively, they did this after coming out cold to start the game.
After tip-off, Wichita State jumped out quickly to a 7-0 lead, but former Iowa State guard Tyrus McGee kept Iowa in the game early while his teammates got going. By the end of the first quarter, Iowa had completely closed the gap to 19-19. Iowa started cooking from deep in the second quarter as they went on a quick run to open the quarter bringing the score to 33-27 after four minutes before Wichita State would close the gap heading into the half. Quarter 3 was all Iowa as they built a four-point lead heading into the final quarter before things came unglued.
Wichita State’s Connor Frankamp got hot from deep and the monster of a man, Shaq Morris, starting hammering down energizing dunks. Just four minutes into the fourth quarter, the AfterShocks had completely flipped the script to lead Iowa by 6. They would build the lead to 10 before the exciting Elam Ending was activated. A few moments later, Wichita State would seal the deal with two game-winning free throws to beat the Iowa United 85-76.
Although the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, this team put together a model that will be successful for years to come. The compilation of the states major universities renewed four passionate fanbases with each other during a relatively dormant time in sports, and the collection of players proved they were ready for the big stage of the $2 million winner-take-all tournament.
McGee was undoubtedly the MVP on the night as he scored a game-high 24 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the field and 6 of 12 from behind the arc while the veteran leader and former Drake Bulldog Josh Young paced the team in minutes playing 34 of the possible 36 minutes. Although his shooting touch wasn’t as on as Bulldog fans are used to, he still managed to finish second on the team in points with 14 while adding 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Recently graduated Drake Bulldog Nick McGlynn led the team in rebounds and finished the night with a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds), and Urbandale, Iowa native Matt Tiby was the only other member of the Iowa United to finish the night with double-digit points.
Here’s a quick stat rundown of the other Iowa United players:
- Reed Timmer (Drake): 4 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
- Nicholas Baer (Iowa): 3 points
- Melsahn Basabe (Iowa): 3 points, 1 block
- Cyrus Tate (Iowa): 4 points, 6 rebounds
With the loss to Wichita State, the Iowa United are officially eliminated from The 2019 Basketball Tournament, but as we said above, the seed has been planted and this team will be coming back stronger than ever next season.