Indiana Daily Student

Hoosiers let another close game slip away

IU can't close out another game

INDIANAPOLIS- Senior Dane Fife sat with a stoic look on his face, looking straight ahead from the seat in front of his locker, and still in his uniform 30 minutes after the game against Iowa ended. Junior Kyle Hornsby was two lockers to Fife's right and in the same position.\nIn an adjoining room, IU coach Mike Davis was sprawled on the floor with his head on his chest and his hands on the back of his head as he and the rest of the IU coaches tried to figure out what had gone wrong.\nWhat had happened was the No. 25 Hoosiers blew another close game, this time in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis Saturday afternoon. A 15-foot, off balance jumper by Luke Recker as time expired sent Iowa into the tournament finals with a 62-60 win against the Hoosiers.\nIU has now lost to Iowa two straight years in the Big Ten Tournament and each loss has been by two points. But the more disturbing trend is how the Hoosiers continue to have trouble closing out tough games. Saturday, Fife had trouble finding an answer after the loss.\n"We have a nice lead going into the last minute, minute and a half and one way or another we find a way to lose games," Fife said.\n"We better learn how to win those games or it's going to be another one and done (in the NCAA Tournament)."\nA day after praising his team for their intensity, Davis said Iowa outworked the Hoosiers, particularly in the second half.\n"I though they out-hustled us to loose balls," Davis said. "They had 17 offensive rebounds. (Iowa coach) Steve (Alford) did a great job getting his team ready to play. They were so physical.\n"I thought we played hard at times. We went for loose balls, they were there before us."\nIU held a 53-45 lead and the momentum with less than seven minutes left before the Hoosiers began to crumble. Recker began to heat up, scoring five straight points for Iowa to get the Hawkeyes to within three with 4:36 left at 55-52.\nIn every timeout Alford exerted his team to stay in the game and Recker did the same, yelling at his teammates to get ready to win the game. After the game, Alford gave the credit to his players.\n"Our kids really showed an incredible amount of courage," Alford said.\n"There were times we were playing basketball but there were a lot of times it seemed like there were a mixture of a lot of sports going on out there. We made a lot of big plays in the last five minutes."\nThis season, the Hoosiers are 1-5 when the game is decided by three points or less. Most recently, IU dropped a 64-63 decision to Wisconsin at Assembly Hall before losing 57-54 at Michigan State Feb. 24.\nIn each game the Hoosiers had several chances to win or tie the game, but could not do so. Saturday, IU had at least three shots on their last possession before Recker's game-winner, but couldn't put the ball in the basket. Also, in the second half IU hit just eight of 13 free throws.\n"You have to have a will to win," Davis said. "You can't coach them or teach them anything like that.\n"After a similar loss to the Hawkeyes last year, the Hoosiers bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round to Kent State. Saturday will no doubt leave a sour taste in the Hoosiers' mouth, but Davis said his team will grow from the loss.\nSophomore Jared Jeffries said the Hoosiers are a different team from last year and a first round loss should not be expected next weekend.\n"Hopefully we're strong enough mentally to put this game behind us and don't worry about it. It's by no means the end of our season," Jeffries said. "I know the coaches aren't going to let this ruin the rest of our season.\n"You have to look within this team and find strength in each other. We're going to be able to bounce back from this and keep playing," Junior Tom Coverdale joined Fife and Hornsby in having a blank stare on his face. Coverdale agreed with Jeffries that IU will come back strong next week. But until the Hoosiers are able to win a tight game in an important situation, Coverdale said IU has to prove itself. "I can sit here and tell you it's not going to happen again," Coverdale said. "But until we can get out there and prove it we can't say anything. We just got to be ready to play"

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