Iowa Unable to Keep Up With Villanova, Falls in NCAA Tournament

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BROOKLYN, New York -- The 2015-16 Hawkeyes' basketball season has officially come to an end in disappointing fashion.

No. 7 seed Iowa (22-11) was dominated by No. 2 seed Villanova (31-5) from the start on Sunday and lost by a score of 87-68 at the Barclays Center.

"I'd say they did a very good job of moving the ball, and I think we didn't come out with the intensity defensively that we needed against a team like that," Iowa guard Mike Gesell said. "They're a team that is very unselfish. They just play within themselves. We turned around a little bit the second half, but I was most impressed with the first half."

Villanova, who led by as much as 34 points, moves on to the Sweet 16 with the win as Iowa fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

"I really think (Villanova) can go a long way," Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. "They're a really difficult team to guard. A lot of times, really talented offensive teams plays defense in spurts, and they don't. They play defense equally as well as they play offense, and I think you heard it pretty clearly from our guys that they've been impressed watching film and then playing against Villanova, how they share the basketball. You've got a lot of really talented guys. You've got a lot of guys with strong egos."

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Adam Woodbury #34 of the Iowa Hawkeyes goes up against Daniel Ochefu #23 and Mikal Bridges #25 of the Villanova Wildcats in the first half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Adam Woodbury #34 of the Iowa Hawkeyes goes up against Daniel Ochefu #23 and Mikal Bridges #25 of the Villanova Wildcats in the first half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Wildcats were on fire for the majority of the game, shooting 59 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3-point land. Iowa had trouble slowing down Villanova's offense all day as they posted 23 assists as a team.

Senior Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes with 16 points and six rebounds while Nicholas Baer scored 15 points and grabbed five boards.

"It's a great honor to play in the NCAA Tournament, and it was goal of ours from the beginning of the season," Baer said. "It's sad we had to lose today, but I really enjoyed playing with these seniors, and I'm going to miss playing with them."

Iowa trailed by 25 points at halftime and allowed the Wildcats to score 54 points, a Villanova school record for most points scored in a half of an NCAA Tournament game.

Despite the tough loss and their once-promising season coming to a close, the Hawkeyes remained upbeat about their future.

"We have a bright future here at Iowa," Gesell said. "We have a lot of young guys that play the game the right way, and they're a close-knit group. I'm going to be very excited to continue to watch them next year and throughout the years."

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