'MAD' Moment: March 1996

Aug. 11, 2010

Editor’s Note: The following was written by Pat Harty and first appeared in the March 15, 1996 edition of the Iowa City Press Citizen.

TEMPE, ARIZ. – It started with a basket by Jess Settles and ended with two free throws by Russ Millard.

The final result was the second greatest second-half comeback by the Iowa men’s basketball in 10 years under Coach Tom Davis.

What made this special is that it occurred in an 81-79 victory over George Washington University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Iowa, seeded sixth in the West Region, outscored the Colonials 25-6 over the final 8 minutes, 21 seconds to earn the victory.

“It’s the biggest win that I’ve ever been a part of,” Settles said. “My guys really worked hard. What a comeback. It was one of the great games in Iowa history.”

The victory improved Davis’ record to 9-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, including 7-0 at Iowa.

However, the streak was in serious trouble when George Washington guard Kwame Evans made a 3-point basket to give his team its biggest lead of the game at 73-56 with 8:21 left to play.

The 6-foot-7 junior from Winfield ignited the second-half rally with a basket with 7:56 remaining. Settles led Iowa with 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

“They played an unbelievable game,” Settles said of George Washington. “I’m sure they’re hanging their heads right now.

“It was a game that came down to the wire. They outplayed us for a lot of the game. We just had a little more fight down the stretch.”

“That comeback goes down as one of the great ones. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Coach Tom Davis

Millard, after being fouled, scored the game’s final two points at the free-throw line with three seconds remaining.

“Everybody dreams of being in that situation,” Millard said. “I told myself when I stepped up to the line, `This is what we’re here for, so get up there and knock them down.’

“For our team to come back like we did, it was just incredible to be in that position.”

George Washington had a chance to tie the score, but Shawnta Rogers’ shot near the 3-point arc bounced off the rim as time expired.

“That comeback goes down as one of the great ones,” Davis said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Friday’s rally ranked second behind a 22-point second-half comeback that Iowa mounted in a victory at Illinois in 1987.

Senior Kenyon Murray triggered Friday’s comeback by scoring 10 of his 14 points in the second half. He also had five of his seven rebounds in the second half.

Despite the presence of 7-1 sophomore center Alexander Koul, Iowa outrebounded the Colonials, 47-25. Koul fouled out with 3:55 left to play.

“That was a big play for them,” Settles said. “They lost the heart of their team.”

Millard, one of three seniors for Iowa, complemented Settles on the frontline with 20 points and nine rebounds. Millard and Murray seemed to play with a sense of urgency, which is typical for seniors in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think we showed great senior leadership tonight,” Millard said. “It would have been a long ride back to Iowa.”

Instead, it will be a long ride back to Washington, D.C. for the Colonials, who finished the season with a 21-8 record. Iowa will advance to Sunday’s second-round game against Arizona with a 23-8 record.

“I give them a lot of credit for sticking with it and turning up the pressure and basically making things happen,” George Washington coach Mike Jarvis said of Iowa. “They made things happen for themselves.”

George Washington senior forward Vaughn Jones said his team unraveled in the second half.

“I don’t think we handled their press well,” Jones said. “They got a lot of easy baskets and cut into our lead.”

The momentum shifted back and forth in the first half like a pendulum.

Junior guard Chris Kingsbury sank a 3-point basket to give Iowa a 19-10 lead with 11:28 remaining. The Hawkeyes increased the lead to 23-12 on a dunk by Murray with 9:57 left before halftime.

George Washington then reeled off eight consecutive points–including five by Rogers – to cut the deficit to 23-21 with 8:02 remaining. Evans made a basket to put the Colonials ahead 26-25 with 5:38 left to play.

Evans, who scored a game-high 24 points, made a 3-pointer with with one second remaining in the first half, which cut the lead to 37-36 at intermission.

Millard was the catalyst for Iowa in the first half. He made four 3-pointers and had 14 points by halftime. Millard scored nine of Iowa’s first 11 points.

He and Settles also formed a potent one-two punch on the boards.

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Iowa had five players who scored in double figures, including Kingsbury. He contributed 14 points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench.

Davis said his players were inspired by all the support for George Washington. Some felt the Colonials would emerge as the sleeper team in the West Region.

“You could see why a lot of people across the country picked George Washington to beat us,” Davis said. “That is a real good ballclub.

“Those teams were pretty evenly matched.”

At least until Millard stepped to the free throw line.

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