Another Big 12 Tourney title for Iowa State

By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Basketball Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lindell Wigginton found his way to Iowa State from Canada, Marial Shayok took a detour through the University of Virginia, and Michael Jacobson started his career at the University of Nebraska.
Three players from three very different backgrounds now have something in common: a title.
The trio helped the fifth-seeded Cyclones race to a big early lead against No. 17 Kansas on Saturday night, then contributed to enough crucial stops down the stretch, preserving a 78-66 victory over the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Tournament finale at Sprint Center to win their fourth Big 12 tourney title in six seasons.
“When you do something special, you win a championship, you have a connection for the rest of your life,” said Cyclones coach Steve Prohm, who brought together his team from far and wide.
“Hopefully this is just step one. We’ll enjoy this for a while, figure out where we’re going for the NCAA Tournament and then we’ll focus on that.”
Wigginton finished with 17 points, Shayok had 15 on his way to winning tournament MVP, and Jacobson finished with 14 for the Cyclones (23-11), who became the lowest-seeded team ever to win the conference tournament. They also improved to 2-0 against Kansas (25-9) in the finals.
“I think it was our best team win of the year because it was gritty,” said Shayok, who like Jacobson sat out last season after transferring. “Everybody stepped up.”
Dedric Lawson had 18 points and Devon Dotson added 17 for the third-seeded Jayhawks, whose last chance to win some hardware will be the NCAA Tournament. Their run of 14 consecutive regular-season crowns ended last weekend, and they failed to defend their Big 12 Tournament title.
“The way we competed, we showed some signs where we really wanted to win this game,” Dotson said. “But they hit some tough shots. We were missing some of our easy shots we usually make.”
Meanwhile, the Cyclones made a tremendous about-face during their stay in Kansas City.
They arrived having lost five of their last six regular-season games, and looked rudderless in losses to Texas and lowly West Virginia. But beginning with a blowout of Baylor and continuing with a quarterfinal win over regular-season champ Kansas State, the Cyclones found their stride.
The Jayhawks, still looking for their own, were fortunate to trail 32-22 at halftime.
Lawson, who had 24 points in the semifinals, was 2 of 11 from the field. Marcus Garrett was 0 for 6 from the floor and 1 of 4 from the foul line. Quentin Grimes was 0 or 4 from beyond the arc after hitting five 3-pointers in their win over the Mountaineers on Friday night.
All told, the Jayhawks shot 27.8 percent from the field and missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the first half. They also were just 2 of 8 from the free-throw line.
“Just one of those nights,” Grimes said. “Every one of the shots we put up was a good shot.”
Iowa State had its own trouble on the offensive end of the floor, getting five shots swatted into the seats. But the Cyclones were effective at getting to the rim, and easy layups by Wigginton and Tyrese Haliburton allowed them to take control.
Their lead swelled to 41-24 early in the second half. And even when the Jayhawks managed to nip into it, they would inevitably miss an open layup or throw the ball away.
Or, Jacobson would knock down an unlikely 3-pointer.
That was the case when the Jayhawks trimmed the deficit to 45-35 with 14 minutes to go. Iowa State’s big man calmly drained one from the top of the arc — all Kansas coach Bill Self could do was smile in disbelief — and Steve Prohm’s squad promptly ripped off seven straight points.
“We just didn’t make those plays that you need in order to put some real game pressure on them,” Self said. “They were better than us, make no mistake.”
Frustration eventually set in for the Jayhawks down the stretch.
After cutting their deficit to single-digits on several occasions, including 72-63 with 1:21 to go, the Cyclones kept answering. And after Grimes was called for a foul on Wigginton, Lawson spiked the ball under the basket and was whistled for a technical foul.
Shayok made the two technical foul shots, Wigginton made two more, and the chants of “Let’s Go Cyclones!” began to reverberate throughout Sprint Center in celebration of another title.
“This is a special night. Kansas is a tremendous program,” Prohm said, “and you can talk about Coach Self forever. But our guys answered the bell We came down here and won each game in different ways. We showed our toughness. We showed our togetherness.
BIG PICTURE
Iowa State has leaned on Shayok and Talen Horton-Tucker much of the season, but Wigginton and Haliburton shined in Kansas City. Wigginton is averaging more than 15 points over his last five games while Haliburton continues to lead the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Kansas started freshman center David McCormack, but the Cyclones’ guard-oriented lineup forced the Jayhawks to match their personnel. Charlie Moore and the rest of their guards struggled shooting the ball, and they were unable to get crucial defensive stops down the stretch.
UP NEXT
Both teams will learn their NCAA Tournament destinations Sunday.

Top-ranked Baylor pulls away from Cyclone women

By CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kalani Brown had 17 points and seven rebounds to help No. 1 Baylor defeat No. 13 Iowa State 67-49 on Monday night in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.
Brown, a 6-foot-7 senior center, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Chloe Jackson scored 16 points and Lauren Cox added 14 for the Lady Bears (31-1), who outscored the Cyclones 19-5 in the fourth quarter. It was Baylor’s 10th Big 12 title overall and ninth in the past 11 years.
Alexa Middleton led Iowa State with 18 points while Bridget Carleton, the Big 12 Player of the Year, was held to 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Baylor’s DiDi Richards guarded her most of the time.
The Cyclones (25-8) shot just 38 percent from the field.
Baylor led 18-6, but Iowa State closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run. The Cyclones eventually tied the game at 20 and 22, but Baylor finished the half strong to take a 30-25 lead.
Baylor slowed Carleton in the first half, but Middleton kept the Cyclones in it with 11 points before the break.
Iowa State tied the game at 37 in the third quarter, but Baylor again responded and led 48-44 heading into the fourth.
BIG PICTURE
Iowa State: The Cyclones had nothing to lose, and they played like it. They look capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Baylor: The Lady Bears got a good test heading into tournament play. They kept their composure when challenged.
UP NEXT
Iowa State: Will get an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Baylor: Could enter the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.

Iowa’s Gustafson an unstoppable force

By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Megan Gustafson kept challenging Maryland inside.
One by one, she batted each defender away.
Gustafson scored 26 points in the first half, finished with 45 and led No. 10 Iowa past No. 8 Maryland 90-76 on Sunday for the Hawkeyes’ first Big Ten Tournament title since 2001.
“This means everything,” said Gustafson, the overwhelming choice as the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player. “This was the only thing that I really cared about.”
She certainly played like it this weekend for Iowa.
After breaking Iowa’s single-season scoring record on Friday and the school’s single-season rebounding record on Saturday, the 6-foot-3 forward saved her best performance for the title round.
Gustafson posted the second-highest single-game scoring total in tourney history, trailing only the 48 she had in last year’s quarterfinal loss to Minnesota, and her 17 baskets were second all-time, too, behind the 19 she made against the Gophers.
The two-time conference player of the year also grabbed 10 rebounds, went 11 of 14 from the free-throw line, drew 13 fouls and had three blocks — while posting the third-highest scoring total (95) in tournament history.
And now that she’s finally earned the title of Big Ten champion, the Hawkeyes (26-6) can focus on bigger goals after capturing their first tourney crown in 16 years — the longest gap between Big Ten Tournament titles since it became an annual event in 1995.
“Having confetti falling on you is the best feeling in the world,” Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle said. “I’m going to leave this (championship) hat on forever.”
Anyone scouting this game saw just how challenging it can be to defend Gustafson and her teammates.
Maryland used three primary defenders on Gustafson — Stephanie Jones, Shakira Austin and Olivia Owens. All three fouled out.
Meanwhile, Gustafson’s quick start helped Iowa take a 17-7 lead, and the Big Ten regular-season champs never led again.
The best the Terps could do was tie the score at 53 with 7:21 left in the third quarter when Kaila Charles scored on a layup. Charles finished with a career-high 36 points and nine rebounds.
Gustafson broke the tie with a layup, and then scored eight points in a decisive 12-4 quarter-closing run that gave Iowa a 69-60 lead.
Maryland (28-4) never recovered, losing for just the second time in the last 14 games — both to Iowa and largely because of Gustafson.
“We didn’t have an answer for her,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “I’m not sure anyone in the country does.”
BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have won five straight and 10 of 11. And while Gustafson’s dominance inside this weekend should be a major concern for whomever Iowa plays in the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes also demonstrated they can use her presence to free up teammates. It could be a wicked postseason combination.
Maryland: For the second straight year, the Terrapins left Indy empty-handed, but they still could be a handful in the NCAA tourney. They showed toughness to battle back and tie the game after Gustafson’s scorching start.
STAT PACK
Iowa: Gustafson extended her own conference record for career double-doubles to 85 and her single-season school record to 31. … Davis added 14 points while Doyle had 13. … Makenzie Meyer and Alexis Sevillian each had five assists. … Hannah Stewart was the other Iowa player to be named to the all-tournament team.
Maryland: Owens was called for four fouls during a 4¢-minute stretch in the first half after Jones and Austin went to the bench in foul trouble. … Blair Watson scored eight points and was the only Terps player other than Charles with more than two baskets. … Maryland’s only losses in Big Ten tourney play have come in the last two title games. … Charles also was named to the all-tourney team along with Ali Patberg of Indiana and Stasha Carey of Rutgers.
SCARY SIGHT
The Hawkeyes had two injury scares.
First, Stewart left briefly in the first half when Austin rolled into her legs in front of the Iowa bench. She walked to the end of the court, where she composed herself before returning to the game.
Two minutes later, Davis stayed down after appearing to get hit in the face as Charles was driving to the basket. Davis also returned and finished the game.
UP NEXT
Iowa: Must wait until next week to find out its NCAA Tournament destination.
Maryland: Will spend the next week fixing what went wrong before focusing on the NCAA Tournament.

UNI coughs up big lead, title shot, NCAA bid

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A huge rally by Bradley resulted in quite a reward — its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2006.
Down by 18 points with 17 minutes left, Elijah Childs and the Braves surged past Northern Iowa 57-54 Sunday in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game.
Childs scored 16 points and Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye added 13 for fifth-seeded Bradley (20-14).
The Braves advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time overall — in their last appearance, as a 13th seed, they beat Kansas and Pittsburgh before losing to Memphis.
Bradley trailed 35-17 before breaking loose. The Braves used a 12-0 run to get close.
Luqman Lundy had 11 points and eight rebounds as Bradley won the MVC Tournament title for the first time since 1988.
AJ Green led sixth-seeded Northern Iowa (16-18) with 23 points.
The Panthers took a 48-41 lead on Green’s jumper with just over six minutes left. Bradley closed the game on a 16-6 run over the final 5:58.
Childs started the comeback with a short jumper. Lautier-Ogunleye brought the Braves to within 49-48 with a 3-pointer. He then put his team in front to stay with four successive free throws after a dead ball foul against Luke McDonnell led to a four-point play.
Northern Iowa had a chance to go in front, but Green missed a jumper with five seconds left. Lautier-Ogunleye made two foul shots three seconds later.
“Their offense was just better than our defense in that four, five-minute stretch,” Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. “They had some guys hit some big shots.”
Explained Green, “The first half was great, we were playing hard, defending. (But) it takes the whole 40 minutes in order to come away with the win.”
ON TARGET
Northern Iowa went 8 of 20 from 3-point range and has made at least one 3-pointer in 628 successive games, the longest streak among MVC teams.
STREAK BREAKER
Bradley had lost its previous three MVC title games in 1996, 2001 and 2006.
UP NEXT
Bradley: The Braves, from Peoria, Illinois, are headed to the NCAA Tournament after winning nine of their last 11 games.
Northern Iowa: The Panthers lost three of their last five, including their final two regular-season games.

Cyclone women advance to Big 12 finals

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Alexa Middleton scored 24 points, Bridget Carleton and Ashley Joens had double-doubles and No. 19 Iowa State took control down the stretch on Sunday to defeat No. 21 Texas in the Big 12 Conference tournament semifinals.
The second-seeded Cyclones (25-7), winners of five straight, face No. 1 Baylor on Monday night in their first championship game appearance since 2013.
Carleton, the Big 12 Player of the Year, had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Joens added 13 and 12.
Joyner Holmes led third-seeded Texas (23-9) with 19 points and Jatarie White added 10. Sug Sutton had 12points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Danni Williams also had 12 points.
The Longhorns, who never led and trailed by as many as 16 in the second quarter, overcame a 4-point possession by Iowa State midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 64-all on a 3-pointer from the left corner by Destiny Littleton with 3:22 to play.
Joens answered with a layup, Carleton followed with a 3-point play and Middleton hit a jumper to give the Cyclones a 71-64 lead with a minute left. Holmes ended the 0 for 4 drought with a basket with 59 seconds to go but Iowa State made four straight free throws until a Williams 3-point play with one second left.
Williams had pulled Texas within one with 5¢ to go before Olamide Aborowa blocked a Carleton shot. With Carleton on the floor, Aborowa apparently said something and the official beside her called a technical. Carleton made two free throws and made a layup on the inbound pass.
Iowa State raced to a 24-13 lead after one quarter by making 6 of 9 3-pointers, led by Middleton’s 3 of 3.
The lead was also 11 at the half, 43-32. Iowa State made three more 3-pointers with Middleton up to 4 of 5 and 16 points. After a 6 of 18 first quarter the Longhorns were 9 of 14 in the second with a 10-0 run keeping them in the game. Williams and Sutton combined for UT’s last 14 points.
Texas cut the gap to five entering the fourth quarter by making 8 of 12 shots from the field while Iowa State went 2 of 12 from 3-point range.

Improbable collapse dooms Iowa

By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
LINCOLN, Neb. — If this was the farewell to Nebraska coach Tim Miles at Pinnacle Bank Arena, it surely was one he’ll never forget. Neither will the ardent 12,300 fans who showed up to see the Cornhuskers wrap up a regular season in which they badly underachieved.
What happened previously this season didn’t matter on senior day.
Showing the fight often missing in other games, the short-handed Huskers hit a flurry of shots to wipe out a nine-point deficit with 50 seconds left in regulation and went on to beat Iowa 93-91 in overtime Sunday.
Amir Harris scored the go-ahead layup with 10.8 seconds left and Thorir Thorbjarnarson blocked Jordan Bohanon’s 3-point try at the buzzer to set off a celebration. The fans who’ve watched so much bad basketball this season were on their feet roaring, the Nebraska players danced at center court and Miles made his way back to the locker room to cheers and hand slaps.
“It was really emotional, I know,” Miles said. “I’m just so happy for the guys. I’m happy to walk out of Pinnacle Bank with such an important win. They deserved it and worked for it so hard.”
Glynn Watson Jr., who made seven 3-pointers, has been with Miles for four years and is well aware of the talk that’s swirling.
Were the Huskers playing for Miles?
“For sure,” Watson said.
But, he added, “We’re playing for Nebraska, playing for the coach and our team, each other. I know (fans and media) talk about it. There’s nothing I can do. Nothing nobody else can do. We have to keep fighting. We have to fight for each other. Go to the Big Ten Tournament and try to make a run.”
The loss, in Iowa coach Fran McCaffery’s return from a two-game suspension, was the fourth in a row for the Hawkeyes (21-10, 10-10 Big Ten).
Nebraska (16-15, 6-14), which had lost 11 of its previous 13 games and seven of them by double digits, trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half. Down 74-65 in the last minute, the Huskers made nine shots in a row and 10 of their last 11 in regulation, with Watson hitting three 3s and Palmer two before Palmer tied it at 81-all with his baseline drive with eight seconds left.
“I think you’ve got to give credit,” McCaffery said. “Those kids made some tough shots. We came up on them, we were contesting. I think if you have to do it over, maybe you run another guy at them. You have a lead, you don’t want to foul.”
Palmer finished with 27 points and Watson and Isaiah Roby added 23 apiece for a Nebraska team that used only eight players because of injuries and a suspension.
Luka Garza matched his career high with 25 points and Jordan Bohannon had 20 for the Hawks.
A 19-3 run over the halves turned a 28-28 tie into a 47-31 Iowa lead, and the Hawkeyes looked ready to win going away.
Their offense didn’t go dormant as much as Nebraska just kept pushing. Iowa made 9 of 10 free throws in the last minute of regulation but seemed almost powerless to stop an inspired Nebraska team.
“They just took it from us,” Bohanon said. “They just started making some crazy shots, contested shots, 25, 30 footers. We were making our free throws down the stretch. But they were making 3s to our 2s and they got back in the game.”
BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes looked as if they were on their way to a feel-good win after seeing their potential NCAA Tournament seeding go south following three straight losses and six in their previous 11 games. They didn’t get it.
Nebraska: As a great a win as it was, it probably doesn’t change anything for Miles. What started as a promising season went into free fall in January. Miles is 113-112 overall and 52-76 in seven years in the Big Ten.
TRUEBLOOD’S BIG DAY
Senior walk-on Johnny Trueblood, who played a total of 37 minutes over 11 games this season, was on the floor for 26 minutes and made some of the biggest plays late in the game. He stripped an inbound pass from Bohanon and dished the ball to Roby, whose dunk made it 70-65 with 1:32 left in regulation. He also swatted the ball away from Joe Wieskamp in the last 10 seconds of overtime to disrupt Iowa’s ability to get off a good last shot.
UP NEXT
Iowa plays Illinois or Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.
Nebraska plays Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday.

Hawkeye women are Big Ten champs

By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Megan Gustafson scored 26 points in the first half and finished with 45 on Sunday to lead No. 10 Iowa past No. 8 Maryland 90-76 for its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2001.
It’s the longest gap between conference crowns since the tourney became an annual event in 1995. The Hawkeyes (26-6) also claimed the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid with a victory over the Big Ten’s regular-season champion.
Gustafson’s point total was the second-most in tourney history, trailing only her 48-point performance in a quarterfinal loss to Minnesota last year.
Kaila Charles scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Terrapins (28-4), who lost for just the second time in 14 games — both to Iowa and this time largely because of Gustafson’s incredible start.
The two-time conference player of the year, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, went 10 of 14 from the field and drew seven fouls in the first half. As a result, Iowa never trailed after taking a 17-7 lead.
Instead, the Hawkeyes extended the margin to 33-19 early in the second quarter, still led 51-43 at the half and only had to fend off one serious charge in the second half, when they missed seven straight shots to open the third quarter.
Maryland took advantage of the drought by scoring eight straight to tie the score at 53.
But Gustafson broke the tie, and then scored eight points during a 12-4 quarter-closing run that gave Iowa a 69-60 lead.
Tania Davis made a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter and Maryland never got within single digits again.
BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes have won five straight and 10 of 11. And while Gustafson’s dominance inside this weekend should be a major concern for whomever Iowa plays in the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes also demonstrated they can use her presence to free up teammates. It could be a wicked postseason combination.
Maryland: For the second straight year, the Terrapins left Indy empty-handed, but they still could be a handful in the NCAA tourney. They showed toughness to battle back and tie the game after Gustafson’s scorching start.
STAT PACK
Iowa: Gustafson also had 10 rebounds to extend her own conference record for career double-doubles to 85 and her single-season school record to 31. She finished 17 of 24 from the field and 11 of 14 at the free-throw line. … Davis added 14 points while Kathleen Doyle had 13. … Makenzie Meyer and Alexis Sevillian each had five assists.
Maryland: Owens fouled out late in the third quarter. Jones and Austin both fouled out in the fourth. … Blair Watson scored eight points and was the only Terps player other than Charles with more than two baskets. … Maryland’s only losses in Big Ten tourney play have come in the last two title games.
SCARY SIGHT
The Hawkeyes had two injury scares.
First, Stewart left briefly in the first half when Austin rolled into her legs in front of the Iowa bench. She walked to the end of the court, where she composed herself before returning to the game.
Two minutes later, Davis stayed down after appearing to get hit in the face as Charles was driving to the basket. Davis also returned and finished the game.
UP NEXT
Iowa: Must wait until next week to find out its NCAA Tournament destination.
Maryland: Will spend the next week fixing what went wrong before focusing on the NCAA Tournament.

Another MVC crown for Drake women

DES MOINES (AP) — Sara Rhine was nearly perfect, Becca Hittner scored 23 points and No. 22 Drake clinched at least a share of its third straight Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship, defeating Illinois State 88-61 on Thursday night.
Rhine had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. She opened the game with an assist on a 3-pointer by Maddie Monahan and kept doing things right. She made 7 of 9 shots, including a season-high 3-for-3 from 3-point distance, and made all four of her free throws.
The Bulldogs (24-5, 16-1 MVC) are one game ahead of Missouri State (15-2) with one game to play. Bradley visits Drake on Saturday when the Bulldogs will go for their ninth regular-season MVC title in program history.
Monahan had 12 points and three assists for Drake. Hittner added five assists and she and Monahan were both 5-of-5 from the free-throw line as the Bulldogs made 19 of 21. It wasn’t just free throws that kept falling as Drake shot 60 percent overall and 54 percent (7 of 13) from 3-point range to go with the 91 percent from the line. Drake had 22 assists on 31 made baskets.
Tete Maggett scored 16 points and Simone Goods added 15 for the Redbirds (17-11, 10-7). Illinois State shot 32 percent overall.
Drake scored 52 points in the second half after already leading by 15 at halftime, 36-21.

Long-time Iowa assistant Morgan retires

By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
IOWA CITY — Iowa assistant coach Reese Morgan has announced his retirement after 19 seasons with the Hawkeyes.
Coach Kirk Ferentz says that Morgan, who has coached the Hawkeyes’ defensive line for the past seven years, will step down prior to spring practice.
The 68-year-old Morgan was in charge of Iowa’s offensive line from 2003-11 after serving as a recruiting coordinator and the tight ends coach from 2000-02. Morgan coached two Outland Trophy winners in Robert Gallery and Brandon Scherff, and tight end Dallas Clark won the John Mackey Award under his leadership.
Four of Morgan’s players were named the Big Ten Player of the Year at their respective positions, and three garnered consensus All-American honors.
Assistant Kelvin Bell will serve as interim defensive line coach during spring practice.
“Always the professional, Reese’s entire life has been dedicated to education and coaching. I am thankful for the opportunity to work alongside him and appreciative of what he has meant to our players, our program, and the University of Iowa,” Ferentz said.
Morgan joined Iowa after eight years as head coach at Iowa City West High. West won state titles in 1995, 1998, and 1999, and Morgan left the program with a 26-game winning streak. Morgan’s presence was crucial in helping Ferentz build relationships with high school coaches throughout Iowa during his early rebuilding efforts.
Morgan coached five players that later became first-round NFL draft picks — and three of his drafted players went on to become All-Pros.
“Coach Ferentz took a chance on me and I have nothing but appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to be part of this wonderful Hawkeye program— it’s been an amazing experience,” said Morgan. “I’ve always felt that we learn as much from our players as they learn from us. They teach us lessons that go beyond football. And when a player arrives lacking a little maturity and confidence but leaves as a young man prepared to tackle life, that’s the real reward for me.”

Wisconsin swats away Hawkeyes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said he had a feeling Ethan Happ would have a good game against Iowa.
He was right.
Happ did a little bit of everything to help No. 21 Wisconsin beat Iowa 65-45, scoring 21 points in his final home game and grabbing 14 rebounds. He also had three assists, two blocks and two steals, all the while helping keep Iowa’s post players in foul trouble for much of the game.
Fellow senior Khalil Iverson had the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Gard said Happ set the tone in Wednesday’s practice, with energy and body language that were “off the charts.”
“I went home thinking, ‘You know what? We’ll be OK tomorrow because our leader was good today,’” Gard said.
“I actually left practice with a smile on my face.”
As much as things went well for Happ, Iverson and Wisconsin (21-9, 13-6 Big Ten), it was another disappointing performance for the Hawkeyes, who have now lost four of five. That includes three straight losses by double digits, the last two with coach Fran McCaffery missing from the bench as he finished a suspension for going after a referee following a 90-70 loss to Ohio State Feb. 26.
They shot 31 percent from the field for the game, their worst performance of the season, and their previous scoring low was 65 in a one-point loss to Maryland Feb. 19.
Meanwhile, their post players couldn’t stay on the floor. Luka Garza went to the bench in the first half after being whistled for his second foul with nearly 9 minutes left. Nicholas Baer followed a few minutes later.
Then it was Jared Cook’s turn in the second half. He was whistled for his third foul less than 4 minutes into the half, came back five minutes later and was promptly hit with his fourth.
After scoring 19 and grabbing 15 rebounds in the two teams’ first meeting Nov. 30, Cook was scoreless while registering seven rebounds.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin turned Iowa’s 25 fouls into 27 free throw attempts, though the Badgers made just 17. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes were just 4 of 6 from the line.
Iowa assistant Kirk Speraw wouldn’t blame the performance on McCaffery’s absence, saying the Hawkeyes are a mature team and the head coach was involved in everything aspect of the game plan other than making calls on the court.
He also didn’t have any answers for their poor shooting, saying they got good looks, but they just didn’t go down.
Jordan Bohannon, who averages nearly 13 points a game, and Ryan Kriener led Iowa with eight apiece.
“Sometimes you hit rock bottom before you bounce out of it and get going,” Speraw said. “We just have to stay positive with ourselves and each other, and guys have to maintain their confidence.”
BREATHING SPACE
Thursday was a rarity for the Badgers after their previous eight games were decided by single digits, including the last two that were decided in the final seconds. The Badger’s last double-digit win was by 11 over Nebraska on Jan. 29. The cushion allowed Gard to pull each of his seniors in the final minutes so they could be recognized by the crowd.
“It was definitely nice to finally stomp on someone’s throat and not let them hang around,” Happ said.
BIG PICTURE
Iowa: The Hawkeyes lost their third straight game by double digits and did it in ugly fashion.
Wisconsin: The Badgers came in needing to win each of its last two games to secure a top-four finish in the conference and clinch a double-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. They took care of the first one.
UP NEXT
Iowa: Travels to Nebraska on Sunday
Wisconsin: Travels to Ohio State on Sunday.