By Travis Morgan
NEW YORK -- It was the most inopportune time for the University of Iowa men's basketball team to have an off shooting night.
The Hawkeyes tied a season-low with a 26.1 field goal percentage (18-of-69) in a 74-54 loss to Baylor in the championship game of the National Invitation Tournament in Madison Square Garden.
After trailing 27-22 at the half, senior Eric May scored five of the first six points of the second half to cut the Bear lead to 28-27. Baylor followed with an 11-2 spurt to build a 39-29 advantage with 14:47 remaining.
"We go into halftime, and we're only down five, and I don't think we played well at all," said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. "We cut it to one, but it felt like we kept missing easy shots.
"The stat the jumps out to me is we had 20 offensive rebounds against this team. That's effort and special. That should have equated to more success offensively. Instead we shot 27 percent in the second half and didn't have the attention to detail."
Freshman Mike Gesell's three-point play with 12:32 remaining cut the deficit to single digits at 42-34, but Bear broke the game open with a 16-3 run to open a 58-37 lead with 7:08 remaining.
Baylor shot 54.2 percent (26-of-48) from the floor and made 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) attempts from 3-point range and 18-of-23 attempts from the free throw stripe. Iowa attempted 21 more shots, but made eight fewer field goals. The Bears had a 36-18 advantage in paint points and a 14-4 edge in points off turnovers.
"Baylor got up into us and their length bothered us at the rim," said McCaffery. "It forced us to settle for too many jump shots. We're more of a driving team, and we get to the free throw line more typically, and we just didn't do that tonight."
The Hawkeyes finish the season with a 25-13 record. Their 25 wins is the second most in school history.