By Tyler Devine
It was a tale of two halves for the Iowa men’s basketball team on Friday night.
Unfortunately for Iowa, first half success didn’t translate to the second half as it lost 83-73 to San Diego State in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Iowa started the game 1-for-6 shooting before sophomore guard Joe Wieskamp and freshman guard C.J. Fredrick hit back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game 10-10 at the first media timeout.
Fredrick led Iowa with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting to go along with five assists.
Consecutive three-pointers and 12 forced turnovers were key in the first half for the Hawkeyes.
Senior guard Bakari Evelyn and sophomore guard Conner McCaffery made three-point baskets on consecutive possessions to extend Iowa’s lead to 35-21 after San Diego State stalled at 19 points for over six minutes.
Iowa led 39-24 with 2:33 left in the first half, but San Diego State went on an 8-2 run to make it 41-32 at halftime.
San Diego State came out firing in the second half and closed the gap to 45-44 before Iowa called a timeout at the 16:13 mark.
Both teams traded buckets until junior center Luka Garza was charged with a flagrant foul that pushed momentum in the Aztecs’ favor.
San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah hit two free throws to give the Aztecs a 51-48 lead with 13:47 left to play.
The Aztecs never relented despite the Hawkeyes keeping things close in the closing minutes.
San Diego State junior guard Malachi Flynn was scoreless in the first half but erupted for 28 points in the second half to catapult the Aztecs to victory.
Iowa returns to action Tuesday at Syracuse in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. (CT) at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.