CHICAGO — The Iowa Hawkeyes came into the Big Ten tournament knowing they had to win four games in four days to make the NCAAs. They’re halfway there.
Refusing to back down even with the entire team in serious foul trouble, Iowa hung on for a 71-69 victory over No. 13 Michigan State on Friday night. Alan Anderson, a 90- percent free-throw shooter, missed a pair with less than 7 seconds left and little-used backup Jack Brownlee came up with a huge rebound.
Brownlee made the second, and Jeff Horner stole Michigan State’s last-gasp inbounds pass. Horner heaved the ball skyward and screamed as the rest of the Hawkeyes (21-10) ran onto the floor. The Spartans (22-6) could only watch, stunned, knowing they’d let the game slip from their fingers.
Michigan State was only 15-of-30 from the line, and had 14 turnovers. Anderson had 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, but was just 5-of-10 from the line. Paul Davis and Shannon Brown added 14 each for the Spartans, who lost for only the third time in their last 15 games.
Iowa, which won four straight to win the 2001 Big Ten title, will play the winner of the Ohio State-Wisconsin game in Saturday’s semifinals.
The Hawkeyes had a nine-point lead with 15:35 left, but they frittered it away with a series of turnovers that was almost comical. They went almost two minutes without getting across midcourt. Iowa had 19 turnovers.
Davis made a layup with 10:12 to give Michigan State its first lead since 5:12 left in the first half. But Iowa wouldn’t go away. With four players – Greg Thomas, Erik Hansen, Adam Haluska and Greg Brunner – all playing with four fouls for the last 5:05, Iowa took the lead for good with 1:40 left when Brunner muscled his way inside for a layup.
Haluska then stole the inbounds pass and was fouled, making both shots to give Iowa a 67-63 lead with 1:29 left. Kelvin Torbert responded with a 3-pointer that pulled Michigan State to 68-66 with 40 seconds left, getting fouled in the process.
Torbert missed the free throw, and Thomas grabbed the rebound. He was quickly fouled and made both free throws, seeming to seal the game. When he made the first, Brunner pumped his fist.
Bu the Spartans weren’t done, either. Brown caught the ball with one foot over the 3-point line, looked down and then stepped back before letting it fly with 29.5 seconds left. The shot was good, pulling the Spartans within 70-69.
After another Iowa turnover, Anderson was fouled under the basket with 6.5 seconds left. Anderson is practically automatic at the line, so it looked as if the game was over.
Oh, no. He missed them both.
When the first clanged off the rim, he clenched his teeth and bowed his head. When he missed the second, it set off a mad scramble for the ball. Brownlee, who’d played a grand total of 62 minutes during the regular season, came up with the ball and sprinted downcourt with a Michigan State player hanging off his arm. A foul was called with 1.2 seconds left.
Brownlee, who didn’t have a free-throw attempt during the regular season, missed the first and then tried to miss the second to run out the clock. But when the ball hit the front of the rim, it caromed back and down through the net.
Michigan State’s Chris Hill heaved a pass toward midcourt, hoping to give Michigan State a chance at a 3. But Horner darted in and grabbed the ball, ending the game.