LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Pierre Pierce wasn’t around to celebrate with his teammates.
The junior guard hit a 25-foot jumper with 44 seconds left to give Iowa the lead for good, and the Hawkeyes beat Texas 82-80 on Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational.
On the last play of the game, when Texas’ P.J. Tucker missed a chance to tie it, Pierce stepped on another player’s foot and hurt his left ankle. He was on the floor in pain while his teammates celebrated, then they ran to him and helped him to the locker room.
He left the Lahaina Civic Center on crutches and was taken for X rays.
“He made big play after big play in the second half,” Iowa coach Steve Alford said. “But he’s on crutches right now and we don’t have a long turnaround.”
Iowa (3-0) will face either No. 11 North Carolina in the championship game on Wednesday.
It was Iowa’s second straight upset win over a ranked team following a 76-71 victory over No. 12 Louisville in the opening round.
“These two games have been against two talented teams and we played with poise in both,” said Alford, who celebrated his 40th birthday. “We’ve played ahead and behind and these kids know what needs to take place.”
With the Hawkeyes trailing by two in the final minute, Pierce stood with the ball in front of the Iowa bench, but no Texas (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) defender came out toward him. He waited as his teammates tried to get free, then let fly with a long jumper that gave the Hawkeyes a 79-78 lead.
The 3-point line is 9 inches further back than normal in this tournament, but that didn’t even matter because Pierce was well behind where the NBA line would have been.
“That was a long, deep 3 and he made the shot,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “But they gave us opportunities to get back in it.”
Jeff Horner, who led Iowa with 27 points, made two free throws with 21 seconds left, but Tucker scored with 8 seconds remaining to bring the Longhorns (2-1) to 81-80.
Horner made one of two free throws with 7.3 seconds left and Tucker, who made a buzzer-beating shot to beat Providence last season, was off the mark with a shot in the lane just before the buzzer sounded.
“Seven seconds is a hard defensive assignment and we did a nice job and there was no rebound,” Alford said. “We didn’t want them to drive and kick out for a 3. The worst-case scenario for us was overtime and they had some foul trouble.”
Barnes was happy with his team’s final play.
“We wanted P.J. to take it as far he could go with it just like he did last year,” Barnes said. “He got it there. We got a good look at it.”
Pierce had 18 points and seven assists.”We just kept fighting back like we did against Louisville,” Horner said.”Pierre stepped up and hit a big 3. That’s the kind of player he is. He’s fun to watch.”
Brad Buckman led Texas with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and freshman point guard Daniel Gibson had 14 points and six assists.
“This was a great experience for Daniel Gibson today,” Barnes said. “Defensively, no question he’s learning. You can’t give room to a player like Jeff Horner. Now he knows.”
Texas led 38-37 at halftime and neither team was up by more than six points in the second half. There were three lead changes and three ties in the final 3:06.
Horner, who had six assists, was 6-for-10 from 3-point range and Pierre, who shot 25.5 percent on 3s last season, was 3-for-7. The Hawkeyes were 9-for-24 from behind the arc.
Texas was 11-for-21 on 3s, with Sydmill Harris going 3-for-4 and Gibson 3-for-6.
Iowa won this tournament, which is sponsored by EA Sports, in 1987.