A loud, relentless crowd of 12,132 were in attendance for Senior Day at Carver Hawkeye Arena watching the Iowa Hawkeyes (11-19) shock the nation by upsetting the No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers (25-6), 67-65, in a Big Ten thriller.
Even with the potential to have a share of first place in the Big Ten on the line for Purdue, Jarryd Cole and the Hawkeyes were too much for Purdue to handle, as the Hawkeyes ended their imperfect regular season in style. This win also ended a seven-game win streak for the Boilermakers that included wins over Wisconsin and top-ranked Ohio State.
But, the most impressive part of the Hawkeye’s victory was how well the Hawkeyes played as a team today, with nine players on the squad having at least one basket and one rebound.
By Jonah Puls
“For us to beat a team that’s ranked in the top ten, I need everybody to contribute to their capabilities,” said Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery. “They don’t have to play perfect basketball, but they have to play up to their capabilities and contribute in a positive way.”
This game didn’t come easy, though, as Iowa had to come back from an early deficit. Purdue’s Kelsey Barlow made a lay-up with 6:35 left in the first half to put Purdue up, 23-29, but from then on it was all Iowa. The Hawkeyes went on to out-score Purdue, 13-7, to finish out the half, which put the score even at 36 heading into halftime.
But, from the very beginning of the second half, Iowa made it clear that they were not going to let Purdue win this game with ease.
Actually, they made it clear they weren’t going to let them win this game, period.
Iowa quickly took the lead at the beginning of the second half on Bryce Cartwright’s jumper, and they had the lead of almost the entire second half—trailing only once for 28 seconds.
Iowa jumped clung to a 6-point lead with just under 15 minutes remaining after Matt Gatens hit a jumper, but Purdue fought their way back into the game. That was a continuing theme in the second half as several times Iowa had the chance to take a big lead, only to have Purdue hit a shot to make it closer.
“The thing about (the win) was Purdue kept coming, said McCaffery. “They made big plays and big shots, and we didn’t roll over. We had to keep doing the same thing, and it was different players at different times.
“You can think of Melsahn’s tip, Jarryd Cole’s elbow jump or Bryce’s play, Matt Gatens’ two free throws. There were so many plays.”
With 4:44 left in the game, Purdue’s D.J. Byrd hit a three pointer—his only field goal of the game —to put Purdue up, 56-55.
That was the last lead Purdue would have for the remainder of the game.
On the Hawkeyes’ next possession, senior Jarryd Cole hit a shot to put the Hawkeyes up for good.
Then, with just 31 remaining, Bryce Cartwright hit the shot of the game, as the ball hit off the cylinder, went straight up in the air, and then fell straight through the hoop to give Iowa a 4-point lead. This was just icing on the cake for Cartwright, who injured his ankle early in the second half. Cartwright finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.
“At first I thought (Bryce) really turned his ankle, but it was cramps,” said McCaffery about Cartwright’s injury. “And sometimes they go away quickly and sometimes it takes forever. Luckily we have a great training staff.
“It took a while but they got him able to play. He made a big shot down for us down the stretch, handled the ball. I’m really proud of him.”
But, Purdue still wouldn’t go away. With 12 seconds left, Lewis Jackson raced down the court and made a lay-up to pull Purdue back within 2 points.
Purdue then fouled Matt Gatens with 6 seconds left. Gatens, who finished the game with 13 points, was shooting 86% from the free throw line, but none were more important than the next two. Gatens went onto sink both free throws, ending an Iowa six-game losing streak, an eight-game losing streak against Purdue, and a 23-game losing streak against teams ranked in The Associated Press Top 25.
“We came close (to beating Purdue) a couple times, we really did,” commented McCaffery on Iowa’s previous eight-game losing streak to Purdue. “This team was probably playing better than all of them. From that standpoint I think it was great.
“But I also think the thing that Matt has done at Purdue; he’s established an identity in terms of how they’re going to play. They’re going to compete at the highest possible level, so anything short of that, you can’t beat them. So for us to win today, we had to establish that we could play with those same competitive instincts and keep fighting and overcome their runs and their big shots and just keep coming.”
This is what Jarryd Cole—the only senior on the squad—deserved for his last game ever at Carver Hawkeye Arena. Cole finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes, but most importantly, he got the victory.
“Everyone feels the same way about (Cole),” said McCaffery about his senior. “They appreciate his effort, his smile, his leadership, his competitive instincts, and the way he has helped our younger players develop on the floor and in the locker room. We all wanted it for him.”
Another key to Iowa’s victory was the way they shut down D.J. Byrd, Lewis Jackson, and E’Twaun Moore. All three of those players contributed only a combined 27 points on 2-12 shooting.
The Hawkeyes head into the Big Ten tournament as the No. 10 seed, hoping to carry some of this momentum forward and win the conference tournament—the only way Iowa will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“This should give us some confidence that we can beat good teams,” said McCaffery. “We’re going to have to beat four of them in succession. You know, this is clearly one of the better teams, not the best, and we beat them. So it gives us a lot of confidence.”