Bohannon on winning shot at Wisconsin: 'I wanted to prove myself'
MADISON, Wis. — Jordan Bohannon bounced to his feet after a postgame television interview Thursday and started to jog across the Kohl Center court.
"Yeah, Bohannon!" two Iowa fans yelled from the pavilion. Bohannon approached his parents and two brothers behind the Hawkeye bunch and hugged them all.
"Go Hawks!" he told brother Zach with a winning grin.
What a moment it was for Bohannon. His 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds remaining lifted the Hawkeyes to a 59-57 upset of No. 21 Wisconsin before a suddenly silenced crowd of 17,287 at the Kohl Center.
The Iowa freshman point guard, who spent six years of his childhood watching brothers Jason and Zach play here, hit the biggest shot of his career to keep alive Iowa's hopes for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Bohannon acknowledged afterward that there was a great deal of bounce in his step heading into the game. Wisconsin never recruited him, and he hasn't forgotten.
"This game kind of meant more to me, especially (since) I was overlooked in the recruiting process. A lot of people doubted me," he said. "But coach (Fran) McCaffery was one of the ones that believed in my abilities. So this is another game that I wanted to prove myself out there that I can do this at the Big Ten level."
It was the Hawkeyes' second win in their past 14 trips here. Iowa scored the final seven points of the game to steal it after coughing up a lead by tallying a mere four points during an 11-minute stretch of the second half.
“(The deficit) never got more than three possessions," McCaffery pointed out. "I’ve been here where they get on one of those runs and you look up, and you’re down 17.”
It was the Hawkeyes' third consecutive victory, and their fourth over a ranked opponent this season.
The Hawkeyes (17-13, 9-8 Big Ten Conference) took a 32-25 halftime lead thanks to a 15-2 run fueled by tremendous defense. The Badgers (22-8, 11-6) went 10 consecutive possessions without scoring at one point.
Offensively, Nicholas Baer came off the bench to nail all four of his 3-point attempts to pace Iowa with 12 points in the half and a season-high 14 for the game.
In the second half, Wisconsin made a run and the sellout crowd got loud. Wisconsin led 56-47 with 3:46 left before the Hawkeyes regained their footing.
Bohannon hit two early 3-pointers but didn't score again until the final 2 minutes. His runner in the lane brought Iowa within 57-54. Ahmad Wagner stole an inbounds pass and drove for a layup.
Bohannon missed his first 3-pointer for the lead with 33 seconds remaining. But after a Peter Jok miss and a Cordell Pemsl rebound, he found himself with the ball unguarded at the left elbow.
This time, his aim was true. And he knew it.
He held his shooting hand aloft long after he released his game-winner.
"I just tried to keep my composure," Bohannon said. "That was kind of our identity this entire game."
McCaffery praised his team for sticking to the gameplan, even when all the momentum seemed to shift Wisconsin's way.
“We kept moving the ball. We kept getting good shots and we executed well on the out-of-bounds plays," McCaffery said. "And that’s all you can do. You ask your guys to battle and to kind of be in the right place and be together, and that’s what they were right up until we get a good shot, offensive rebound, kickout to one of the best shooters in the country."
That was Bohannon, who finished with 11 points, five assists, four hugs and one dream come true.
“You can’t really imagine stuff like this happening. You visualize it in your head. You’re thinking about it when you go to bed. But once you get on the court, you don’t really think it’s going to happen," Bohannon said. "But everything fell in the right place."
Like the bottom of the net.
Iowa concludes its regular season at noon Sunday when it hosts Penn State.