COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cincinnati’s Jarron Cumberland barreled into Iowa’s Luka Garza near the basket, and the shot went down. The call, however, would not favor the Bearcats.Cumberland was called for a charge on one of those bang-bang judgment calls that could go either way. A Cincinnati-partisan crowd that made the hour-and-a-half-drive up I-71 to Nationwide Arena unloaded on the refs. The 7-seed Bearcats were up by 10 at that point, but that was a chance to take control of the game. Cronin takes a different view — one that knows that Cincinnati likely will be back in the same position in 2019-20.But where do the Bearcats go from here?”Back to work,” Cronin said before a long pause. “With a lot of pride, by the way. A lot of pride.” Cincinnati (28-7) never got that moment back again.SN’s MARCH MADNESS HQLive NCAA bracket | Live scoreboard | Full TV scheduleNot in a first half in which it once led by 13 points. Not in the second half, when 10-seed Iowa (23-11) shot 65.4 percent from the field. And certainly not in another first-round loss, this time by a 79-72 score in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. That leads to the same-old question for a proud, successful program that missed another chance to break through.If not now, then when?Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin hugged seniors Justin Jenifer and Cane Broome as the final seconds ticked off, then explained that loss in matter-of-fact terms.”We’re not going to win when we give up 79 points,” Cronin said. “I don’t know the last time Cincinnati won when we gave up 79.”The Bearcats let the Hawkeyes take control of the tempo in one of those 7-10 games that was tough to call until the final minutes, when you knew the Hawkeyes were taking this one.”We took some questionable shots that were out of character for us,” Cronin said. “We got the game going at a pace where we couldn’t set our defense enough. We got too concerned about offense.”That led to an all-too-familiar tournament trend.Cincinnati is 89-18 the last three seasons, including a 46-8 mark in American Athletic Conference. That included a conference tournament championship, just five days ago, against 3-seed Houston. Yet, Bearcats fans are asking the same question that has haunted the program several times since the Bob Huggins’ era.How did that team not get out of the first weekend?MORE: The (still) cursed life of a Cincinnati sports fanIt hurts this year, too. On Thursday, Cronin reminisced about his first tournament appearance as a head coach with Murray State — a first-round loss in Columbus in 2004. It has been 15 years, but now the Racers are the talk of the tournament with Ja Morant. The Bearcats, meanwhile, are having that end-of-season evaluation before the second round.Those nine straight trips to the Big Dance have resulted in just one trip to the Sweet 16. It is not a reflection on Cronin — who at 47 years old has proven he can keep Cincinnati in the hunt for conference championships and tournament appearances. Yet that success in the AAC is not always enough for a program that expects to compete for Final Four berths.This one is just as difficult to explain, especially after the Bearcats settled in early. Cincinnati built a 13-point lead behind Jenifer, who totaled 12 first-half points. Cumberland’s potential 3-point-play-turned-charge flipped that momentum.The Hawkeyes trimmed the lead to 36-31 at halftime and put on a shooting exhibition in the second half. Iowa shot 7 of 11 from 3-point range in the second half and took one-point leads on two occasions. Iowa used a zone defense to throw off Cincinnati’s shooting.Cumberland, who averaged 18.8 points per game this season, could not take over. The Bearcats hit just 4 of 15 from 3-point range in the second half.”We knew that coming into the game,” Jenifer said of Iowa’s second-half defense. “We knew they would start off in man and move to zone. We were prepared for that. Some shots didn’t go in. That’s part of the game.”The Bearcats might have known what was coming on offense, but they could not stop the Hawkeyes on defense. Iowa broke a tie at 62 with 4:20 remaining with an 11-2 run that reached its peak on a 3-pointer by Joe Wieskamp, followed by a 3-point play by Jordan Bohannon with 1:07 remaining.Tre Scott would not get the call. All he could do was wave his hands in frustration. Bohannon would attribute the comeback to playing in a tough Big Ten, and Iowa coach Fran McCaffery backed that up by saying the strength of the conference is not merely perception. It is a reality.”We knew there would be more Cincinnati people, but it’s an NCAA game,” McCaffery said. “I didn’t feel like it would be a road game in any shape, way or form.”MORE: 2019 NCAA Day 2 live blogNow, Cincinnati and that partisan crowd will make the hour-and-a-half-drive back home.”It’s tough,” Scott said. “A lot of people doubted us. A lot of people said we wouldn’t get to where we got today. Every team has goals. This was not part of our goals.”Cronin did not lament on the loss, instead turning the focus on pride in his players and their accomplishments. He does not look at a first-weekend loss quite the same way as those who might question the Bearcats do. There are questions about the strength of the AAC after a loss to a middling Hawkeyes team. There are questions about the inability to break through to the second weekend.