'MAD' Moment: March 1987

Aug. 11, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following was written by Ron Maly and first appeared in the March 21, 1987 edition of the Des Moines Register.

SEATTLE, WASH. – Miracles, miracles. For Iowa’s basketball team, they just keep coming.

And if the Hawkeyes don’t quit pulling them off, they just might find themselves standing on Bourbon Street, getting ready to play in the NCAA Final Four at New Orleans, La.

Iowa is now one victory away from making it to collegiate basketball’s big show after Kevin Gamble drilled a three-point field goal with 3 seconds left in overtime Friday night to stop Oklahoma, 93-91, in the West Regional at the Kingdome.

“I saw the clock running down, B.J. Armstrong penetrated, and a couple guys collapsed on him,” Gamble said of the maneuver that set up his winning basket.

“I got my feet under me, and felt pretty good about the shot when I released it. Lucky for us, it went in.”

Gamble finished with a career-high 26 points, and also made a crucial block of Tim McCalister’s shot as the final seconds expired in regulation time. The score was tied, 85-85, going into the 5-minute overtime.

Sixth-ranked Iowa will play either No. 1 Nevada-Las Vegas or Wyoming at 3:03 p.m. CST Sunday for the regional championship. Nevada-Las Vegas took a 35-1 record into Friday night’s second game against Wyoming (24-9).

Iowa ran its record to 30-4 despite falling behind by 16 points in the first half.

But the Hawkeyes are old hands at coming back from big deficits. Don’t forget, they trailed by 22 at Illinois during the regular season before winning in overtime, 91-88.

Friday night’s recovery act produced 19 straight points during a 6-minute 58-second period when Oklahoma was blanked.

“I got my feet under me, and felt pretty good about the shot when I released it. Lucky for us, it went in.”
Kevin Gamble

Armstrong’s three-point basket with :51 left in regulation time sent the game into overtime, and he wound up with 16 points.

Roy Marble, who was held without a field goal until 10:02 remained in regulation time, scored 11. Gerry Wright and Al Lorenzen each added 10.

And Iowa still hasn’t been outrebounded this season. The Hawkeyes trailed, 26-23, on the backboards at halftime, but snapped back to finish with a 42-40 advantage.

Oklahoma quickly called timeout after Gamble’s clutch three-pointer, and had one second to do something.

Coach Billy Tubbs was upset after the game that his team didn’t get a call from the officials on the inbounds play.

“We ran the best play we had, and ran it successfully,” Tubbs explained. “There was a charge [by Iowa] there.

“McCalister set a nice pick, and the officials knew what we were doing because we told them we were going to do it. But they didn’t have the courage to call it.

“However, there was no assurance we’d have made the free throws even if the officials had called a foul on Iowa.”

McCalister closed with 26 points, including seven three-point baskets in 11 tries. David Johnson added 20, Darryl Kennedy 16 and Harvey Grant 15 for the Sooners, who finished their season with a 24-10 record.

Tom Davis, Iowa’s first-year coach, said he was a little concerned that Armstrong might be exercising a bit too much nonchalance in the final :11 when Iowa set up its final basket.

“I wondered if B.J. might be hanging in there a little too long,” Davis admitted. “But we did have a play that had the option for B.J., Gamble, or Marble to take the shot.

“We were going to go for any one of the three in what we call our zone offense play. It was B.J.’s job to get the ball to whomever was open.

“He was looking for the open man. I guess a good point guard has that sort of feel to him, rather than panicking.”

Armstrong said he was fully aware of how much time was left.

“We were lucky Gamble was open,” he said.

Armstrong said he wanted to make his tying three-pointer in the final minute of regulation time “with enough time left so we could rebound.”

“Oklahoma just left me wide open, so I pulled up and shot,” Armstrong.

Gamble described his critical block of McCalister’s shot this way: “Coming down the stretch, I knew McCalister would take the shot.

“I played for the drive, and kept him at the free-throw line.”

Iowa owned a 90-85 lead in the opening 2 minutes of overtime, but couldn’t stand prosperity. Kennedy’s field goal gave Oklahoma a 91-90 lead before Iowa’s closing fireworks.

“We’re very disappointed in the loss,” said Tubbs. “Our players gave me everything they had, though, so we can’t be disappointed in that.

“If you want to nail the loss on one thing, it was our failure to get some defensive rebounds late in the game.”

On Iowa’s 19-0 run in the first half, Tubbs said, “We were starting to accumulate fouls, and had to go to a more conservative defense.

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“The officials weren’t letting us play on the defensive end. Then [our shooting problems] became contagious.”

Davis said Oklahoma played “extremely well. They really took it to us in every way.

“We were having trouble defending them with any defense. We were having trouble with the pressure, and also the drop-back. We tried to drop-back to man-to-man, and we tried a drop-back zone, and different forms of pressure, but Oklahoma was just outplaying us.

“They were outrebounding us, beating us to loose balls, getting second shots, and they were just a little sharper than us.

“However, to the credit of this team, they came back. I don’t know how many times they’ve done something like this before,” said Davis, the Big Ten coach of the year.

Here’s a list of “MAD” Moments that have appeared previously inside hawkeyesports.com.