Jordan Bohannon looked in the direction of his older brother, Zach, as he ran back up the court after hitting a 3-pointer with 9 seconds left against Wisconsin, his sibling’s alma mater.
Little brother hit a big shot for Iowa.
Bohannon’s 3 finished a frantic comeback from a nine-point deficit with 4:15 left, and the Hawkeyes brushed past mistake-prone No. 22 Wisconsin for a 59-57 victory Thursday night.
“I said, ‘Go Hawks,'” Bohannon recounted with a laugh when asked what he said to his brother. Zach and another older brother, Jason, both played for the Badgers.
“We were pretty much a Wisconsin family growing up,” said Bohannon, who finished with 11 points. “This game meant a lot to me.”
It also meant a lot to Iowa’s long shot changes to make the NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes (17-13, 9-8) have won three straight, including two on the road against ranked opponents.
“It never got more than three possessions (behind) — the most we were down was seven, there were still 3 minutes to go. Plenty of time,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey said.
Especially with all the opportunities squandered by Wisconsin.
After Ethan Happ missed two free throws that could have sealed the win, Iowa’s Peter Jok missed a jumper in the lane with 15 seconds left.
But Cordell Pemsl corralled the offensive rebound and Bohannon hit the 3 from the left wing, stunning the crowd at the Kohl Center.
Wisconsin fans aren’t used to seeing the veteran team blow late leads.
The Badgers (22-8, 11-6) lost their third straight game, going scoreless for the final 3:12. Iowa forced turnovers on consecutive Wisconsin inbounds passes in that stretch, converting each mistake into baskets to set up Bohannon’s game-winner.
“We’ve walked such a fine line, and we have all year,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “The little details — whether turnovers at inopportune times, or a simple defensive rebound … all those things add up.”
Bronson Koenig led the Badgers with 19 points. Nigel Hayes added 10 points, eight after playing more aggressively in the second half.
But Iowa set the tone over the final few minutes with defense, rebounds and a clutch 3.
Jok was held to eight points on 2-of-10 shooting. Nicholas Baer had 12 points in the first half on 4-of-4 shooting from 3-point range, finishing with a season-high 14 points.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes followed an impressive 14-point win at No. 24 Maryland with another good showing away from Iowa City after having won just once on the road until last week.
Wisconsin: Gard’s team had more maddening stretches of offensive futility, going scoreless for 6-plus minutes late in the first half and falling behind by seven at halftime. Offense has been a problem for much of the second half of Big Ten play as big man Happ adjusts to facing more double-teams, while Koenig and Hayes are among players who have faced nagging injuries.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes tried to throw off Wisconsin with different looks, alternating presses with a 3-2 zone and double-teams. Wisconsin adjusted in the second half until the final few minutes after coughing up turnovers and having trouble on inbounds passes.
“Just tried to keep them out of rhythm. If you get them in rhythm, they’re typically going to carve you up, so that helped us there,” McCaffrey said.
Wisconsin: Reserve Jordan Hill gave Wisconsin a defensive lift with two steals in the second half, including one that led to a dunk with 7:32 left that riled up the crowd.
Wisconsin had another tough day at the foul line, going 5 of 14, including 1 of 7 for Happ. He finished with 11 points. Hayes had five of the team’s 13 turnovers.
“We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot and play a full game,” Hayes said. “We do little things that put ourselves in holes, and run out of time to fight back.”
Iowa: Wraps up the regular season by hosting Penn State on Sunday.
Wisconsin: Hosts Minnesota in regular-season finale on Sunday, a game that could have implications for seeding in the Big Ten Tournament.