Trailing by 12 with just under 12 minutes left to play against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Iowa Hawkeyes ripped off a 21-2 run to come from behind to defeat the Badgers, 68-62 for the team’s 5th consecutive win. The Hawks are now 15-5 on the season and 6-3 in conference play.
Iowa shot 3-20 from deep, and it looked like this game was going to become a repeat of the loss at Nebraska. Instead, this scrappy Hawkeye team came alive and closed out the game thanks to persistent defense and clutch performances in the paint from Luka Garza, Joe Wieskamp, CJ Frederick and Joe Toussaint, all of whom came through big time when it mattered most.
Garza netted 21 points, 18 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Frederick netted 17 points, including two of Iowa’s three 3-pointers. Wieskamp added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Toussaint added 11 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, only one turnover, and a clutch and-1 that sealed the win for the Hawks.
The game started out slow on the scoring end for both teams, which included some pretty bad shots from deep on both ends of the floor. Wieskamp soon got moving, scoring 4 of Iowa’s first 6 points, both from midrange. But Iowa managed to get out to a 10-5 lead despite both teams struggling from beyond the arc, going 0-12 in the first 10 minutes of gameplay.
Wisconsin managed to get the first three-pointer of the game and hit from midrange to tie the game at 12 all, but neither team seemed like it could score on consecutive possessions. The Badgers got their first lead of the game at 17-16 with 6:30 left in the half as they started to heat up from deep. While Iowa couldn’t hit from deep themselves, they made up for it on the other end of the floor, blocking 5 shots in the first half.
The teams traded baskets from there, with CJ Frederick going on a mini scoring run of his own, including a beautiful drive and fake through the lane for an and-1. It looked like Wisconsin might pull away after going on a 10-3 run that put them up 28-24, but CJ Frederick hit the first three of the game for the Hawkeyes and brought it back to a 1-point game, before Joe Toussaint ended the half with a brilliant floater for the and-1 that tied the game at 30 going into the half.
Wisconsin got heated from deep quick to start the second half, ripping off 6 points in a minute, causing Red Face Fran to come out in full force. Garza heeded the call and got going beneath the basket, turning to the bench and trying to get them fired up himself, but Wisconsin kept its foot on the gas, putting the lead out to 43-36 with 15 minutes left in the game.
Iowa, meanwhile, rushed shots, trying to do anything to hit from deep and failing as Wisconsin’s lead grew, thanks to a 12-4 run that happened to put them up 10 points, 48-38 with 12:30 remaining and Garza the only player in the black and gold managing to find the bottom of the net.
As the shots kept bouncing off the rim, the energy of the Hawkeyes, and Carver, seemed depleted, until Wieskamp brought the crowd back from the dead with Iowa’s second three pointer of the night. But it was to no avail. Shots started missing beneath the basket too as the clocked ticked closer and closer to zero.
And yet, the Hawks didn’t quit, managing to draw the Badger lead down to three, thanks to a 9-0 run that included a Frederick three. Suddenly, with 5 minutes left in the game, the Badger lead was down to 57-54 and life was brought back to Carver. Iowa found its way to the line on the next offensive possession and brought the deficit down to 2 before forcing the Badgers into a shot clock violation.
Iowa’s defensive intensity improved as they tried to tie the game, and thanks to foul trouble, Garza was able to bring the game to a tie at 57 with 2 free throws and 2:10 left in the game, cementing a 12-0 Iowa run...and Wisconsin responded by immediately cutting through defenders for a layup.
But Joe Toussaint pulled off one of his finest moves of the season, spinning beneath the basket to re-tie the game and go to the charity stripe to give Iowa back the lead, and Wieskamp responded with a beautiful finger-roll basket for a 3-point lead with 32 seconds left on the clock.
From there, things got a little weird. Wisconsin was called for a flagrant on Wieskamp, Garza was called for a technical after getting angry about being smacked in the face, but the Badgers could only hit 1 free throw, and Iowa got the ball back.
Previous Iowa teams would have lost this game. But somehow, this team found a way. We might be watching something special.