The Breakdown: Hawkeyes Pull Off Improbable Comeback Against Northwestern

February 10, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

FRAN MCCAFFERY POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – Maybe you wouldn’t want Jordan Bohannon helping you in an alley fight. He’s not the most physically imposing individual.

When it comes to shooting a big shot at the end of a basketball game, however, you’d be hard pressed to find a more reliable option. He boasts a series of daggers in his career to prove it.

The latest chapter for Mr. Clutch came Sunday night. His deep, fade-away three-pointer with less than a second remaining sealed an 80-79, come-from-behind victory against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes trailed by 15 points with four and a half minutes remaining.

“I haven’t had too many like him, that have that kind of stroke, consistently make shots like that. I’ve had a few,” Hawkeye coach Fran McCaffery said.

“I will say this. The ones that I’ve had wanted to shoot it in that situation, they have such supreme confidence in their ability to make it, they want to shoot it. That’s who he is.”

Bohannon canned two big, late treys in Thursday’s win at Indiana, scoring his team’s final 11 points. Sunday, he notched all 15 of his points in the game’s final 5:28.

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“I think he just treats it like any other time in the game,” fellow junior Tyler Cook said of Bohannon’s heroics. “I think his composure and the way he can calm himself and his mind and things around him allows him to make those big plays down the stretch.”

The Marion Linn-Mar product delivered in the clutch at Penn State earlier this season. He shocked Wisconsin with a late triple his freshman year. Every time he’s pulled it off, it’s expected.

“Any kid growing up, you kind of visualize these moments. I’ve had a cool opportunity to have the ball down the stretch these last couple of games and make some plays. Teammates did a really good job of just finding me,” he said.

When you come through time after time, they’re going to be looking.

“I knew even before the ball even left my hand that I was going to make it,” Iowa’s answer to Jimmy Chitwood said.

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Bohannon had help. Cook scored 19 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman Joe Wieskamp battled back stiffness to lead his squad with 21 points, including a big three-pointer during the late-game comeback. Isaiah Moss added 16 points and a few key hoops down the stretch.

McCaffery credited Iowa’s clock management, being in the free-throw bonus and making plays as reasons for the improbable comeback.

“All those things together. There can’t be any panic. You got to execute. Got to know what we’re doing. You got to stay together. They did all that,” he said.

He helped keep calm in the huddle.

“There was a timeout. We were down 12 at that point and coach said there’s not a 12-point shot,” Wieskamp said. “You’re not going to come back in one shot. You’ve got to keep grinding.”

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The Hawkeyes hit threes, but they also drove for layups when they were available. Each time they scored, they hit Northwestern with a three-quarter court trap, creating turnovers and more possessions.

“We got on our heels a little bit. The crowd got into the game. The game pressure of the last couple minutes when you know they’re trapping, we don’t really have a traditional (point) guard. So sometimes in those situations you need everybody to kind of rally together and collectively do it,” Wildcat coach Chris Collins said.

Northwestern was a double-digit underdog Sunday and thoroughly outplayed the Hawkeyes for 35 minutes. It won the rebounding battle, 37-26, and shot 51.8 percent from the floor. It couldn’t close, however, and lost for the fourth time in a row, falling to 12-11 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten.

Iowa (19-5, 8-5) won for the third game in a row, continuing a miraculous turnaround from a year ago, when it finished 14-19 overall and 4-14 in the league.

Sunday served as another example of mental toughness that these Hawkeyes have displayed throughout most of the campaign. Bohannon and Cook admitted it wasn’t a game they would have won last season. Wieskamp said it could pay dividends.

“It’s huge for us. I think just executing in the late-game is going to play a big part come March because we know that those games are going to be tough. We’re going to gave to execute late-game and this was a good learning experience for us. It shows that we can persevere and continue to fight,” he said.

The freshman from Muscatine said his back was bothering him throughout the game, but he expected it to improve for the team’s next contest, Saturday at Rutgers

Iowa senior Nicholas Baer left the game in the second half and accompanied a trainer to the locker room. His parents were brought back there with him. Sports information said the school would know more on Monday and didn’t have anything to report on his condition Sunday night.

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