What looked like a rout early turned into disaster late.
The Hawkeyes couldn’t survive.
Bendu Yeaney’s floater with 3.8 seconds to play capped a stunning Indiana rally, as No. 10 Iowa suffered a 75-73 defeat Thursday night at Assembly Hall. The Hawkeyes dropped to second place in the league and now need help for a conference title.
Iowa (21-6, 12-4 Big Ten Conference) seemingly had this one wrapped up with a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter, but Indiana came surging back as the Hawkeyes wilted. An 18-5 Hoosiers run had Indiana within three entering the fourth. That was enough juice for an upset.
Back-and-forth the teams went over the final minutes. The Hoosiers had one last chance to answer after Tania Davis drained a huge game-tying trey with 22 seconds remaining. Iowa couldn’t clamp down when it needed to.
Yeaney’s bucket sent the Hoosiers crowd into jubilation. The Hawkeyes threw up a final prayer. Davis’ three was blocked as time expired.
Megan Gustafson led Iowa with 26 points and 12 rebounds, but she had to sit three-plus minutes in the fourth after picking up a fourth foul. Indiana hit the gas to start the final period, ripping off an 11-2 run to take a 62-61 lead with 5:50 to go.
Gustafson checked back in down the stretch. Iowa couldn’t avoid despair.
Thursday will only sting more when peeking around the league. Maryland, which entered the day tied with Iowa atop the conference standings, rallied from seven down in the final minute to beat Minnesota.
Now, the Hawkeyes need to win out and get a Maryland loss to capture a league title. The Terrapins finish against Purdue and Illinois.
Iowa players and coaches talked Wednesday about how the Hawkeyes were still locked in after Sunday’s big win over Maryland. That obviously wasn’t the case.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.