WKU had the ball trailing by six with less than a minute to go in the game Tuesday night against Iowa in the 2012 Cancun Challenge, but the Hawkeyes erased the threat and held on for a 63-55 win in Riviera Division play in Cancun.
The Hilltoppers also had multiple chances to cut into a seven-point deficit, but could not come within that six-point margin in the final seven minutes of the game despite forcing 18 Hawkeye turnovers in the game. The loss moves WKU to 2-2 on the season. Iowa improves to 5-0.
T.J. Price and Jamal Crook led WKU with 16 and 14 points, respectively, and Brandon Harris had a career high 10 rebounds. Iowa was paced by Mike Gesell's 19 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three-point range. The Hawkeyes shot 46.8 percent from the field for the game (22-for-47) and held WKU to 33.3 percent shooting (20-for-60). WKU scored 15 points off Iowa's 18 turnovers, but the Hawkeyes scored 18 points of WKU's 13 miscues. WKU had 17 offensive rebounds in the game.
Crook has had 16 double-digit scoring games in 39 contests since the start of his junior season, and Price has buried multiple three-point attempts in 14 of the last 19 games.
Trailing 49-39 with 7:16 to go in the game, Price hit a three-pointer to cut the Hawkeye lead to seven and Harris got a steal on the defensive end, but WKU could not convert to bring the game within six or fewer. Iowa's lead swelled to 11, but WKU scored four-in-a-row to once again bring it to seven.
WKU got a defensive rebound by Harris the next time down the court, but he misfired on a three and gave the ball back to Iowa with 4:29 remaining. Iowa made a couple of free throws, and the lead grew to nine once again.
A Crook and-one cut the Hilltopper deficit to six with 35 ticks remaining, but WKU had a crucial turnover with 11 seconds remaining to allow Iowa to seal the win with two free throws.
The Hilltoppers never led in the game, and Iowa led by as many as 12 with 9:46 to go in the contest.
The loss was WKU's second-straight to a Big Ten opponent since defeating Illinois in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Iowa is off to its first 5-0 start since the 2008-09 campaign.
WKU finishes play in Mexico and in the 2012 Cancun Challenge Wednesday night at 6:00 (CT) as it takes on DePaul. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network and is available on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network. WKU then returns home on Saturday, November 24 to play Brescia (Ky.) at 7:30 PM.