IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jordan Bohannon stepped to the foul line Sunday night prepared to intentionally fail. He did it for all the right reasons.
Iowa’s sophomore point guard missed the front end of a one-and-one on purpose in the closing minutes with his team ahead by only eight points. At the time, he was tied with Hawkeye legend Chris Street with 34 makes in a row. It was the program record.
Bohannon, a native Iowan like Street, felt it wrong to erase Street from the record books. Street died tragically in a car accident 25 years ago. It extinguished a bright light of a player and person.
“I was just thinking, “please don’t get mad at me coach. Please don’t get mad at me,”” Bohannon said of his thoughts at the line. “I knew he was going to be a little frustrated with me at first. Obviously he knows what the record means and he was OK with it after the game.”
Coach Fran McCaffery said he thought the gesture by Bohannon was awesome. The feeling was aided by Bohannon returning to the line with :50 left to seal Iowa’s 77-70 victory, ending a six-game losing streak in the regular-season finale.
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Bohannon met with Mike and Patty Street, Chris’ parents, on the court after the game. They embraced and Jordan told them what he did. They all were emotional, as was McCaffery in his postgame press conference.
Bohannon tied Street with two first-half free throws as the Hawkeyes (13-18 overall, 4-14 Big Ten) built a commanding 45-28 lead at the break. He had planned ahead of time, with the guidance of his older brother, Zach Bohannon, that he would miss his next attempt.
When asked if he would have misfired had it been a tie game, Bohannon knew things would work out.
“God’s plan wasn’t going to let that happen,” he said. “I missed it. We got the ball right back. So, that just shows you, I don’t know if it was destined to happen, but it just worked out like it should have.”
Bohannon played a major role in putting himself in position to afford missing a free throw. The sophomore from Marion scored 25 points, grabbed six rebounds, registered two steals and handed out five assists against just one turnover. After being held scoreless in a loss at Minnesota on Wednesday, he connected on 7 of 14 three-point attempts Sunday.
“He needs to play like that for us to be the kind of team we can be, and I told him that,” McCaffery said. “I said you have to get your swag back.”
Northwestern (15-16, 6-12) lost for a sixth time in a row. The Wildcats were without starting forward Vic Law, who was in a walking boot. Starting point guard Bryant McIntosh played just seven minutes. He was dealing with a shoulder injury.
The Hawkeyes’ man-to-man defense slowed the visitors early (yes, you read that right). It was as good as Iowa had looked on defense for quite some time.
“They ended up coming out with great energy in their man-to-man. They turned us over early,” Wildcat coach Chris Collins said.
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Iowa built a 30-12 lead with 10:47 left in the first half. It led by was many as 22 with 17:48 remaining in the game before Northwestern mounted a comeback behind the hot shooting of senior guard Scottie Lindsey. His game-high 32 points were fueled by 9 of 11 three-point shooting. He tied the arena record for made treys, set by Indiana’s Robert Johnson on Feb. 17.
The Wildcats trimmed their deficit to a few times in the closing minutes, including when Bohannon missed his free throw. Iowa led by that amount after Northwestern’s Isiah Brown hit a layup with 1:08 on the clock. He then fouled Bohannon.
Bohannon sank these two free throws to seal the deal. His new streak of makes stood at two.
Only a sophomore, Bohannon could find himself in this position again. He said he’d decide then what to do.
Collins visited Iowa as a recruit when he was playing in high school in Chicago. Street hosted him on his visit. They became friends. He was told of Bohannon’s act after Sunday’s game.
“Hearing that makes me feel good because I know what a special guy Chris was,” he said. “That’s a pretty cool thing. Bravo to Jordan for doing that.”