BROOKLYN — It was not exactly the shot Iowa wanted.
With seconds winding down in the first overtime, senior Mike Gesell found himself along the right baseline and his fade away jumper missed.
But then Adam Woodbury happened to grab his fifth rebound of the game and his tip-in gave the Hawkeyes a 72-70 overtime victory over 10-seed Temple to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“I was fortunate enough to put it in and just one of those right place, right time kind of deals, and happy we got it in,” Woodbury said of his final rebound to finish off a 10-point performance.
Iowa struggled in the second half, including in its final possession of regulation, to get quality shots against Temple’s suffocating defense.
“We had something different in mind. But what happened down the stretch – you can run any kind of picking action you want,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “They were switching everything. So when a team starts switching, we always say the X is on the O. So you have more space to drive the ball than you normally would. So you’ve got to drive the ball. Now, the last thing you want to do is dribble the clock out. So Mike got a shot up. Now, they don’t have time, because we took the shot at the right time, they don’t have time to run it back down your throat. So we’re sending everybody. So it worked.”
“You drove it – yeah, it wasn’t what we designed, but Mike made the right play, and Woody made the right play.”
After the game, the question was not the 7’1” senior’s heroics, but whether or not he pushed off of a defender to grab the game deciding rebound.
“I have no idea to be honest with you, I certainly couldn’t see it from where I was sitting,” Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said. “We’ll watch on the film, but the reality is it doesn’t matter. They got the rebound and put it back in. Woodbury is a tough offensive rebounding guy, and we got hurt by the offensive rebounds throughout.”
In the end the two teams ended up even on offensive rebounds at 13, but the Owls did not get even one offensive rebound in overtime.
The Hawkeyes led by as many as 10 in the second half but their offense sputtered as regulation closed. Iowa made just 30% of their field goals in the second half, but managed to grab nine offensive rebounds. However, Temple closed the gap thanks to senior Quentin DeCosey, who finished with a game-high 26 points. The 6’5” guard sent up a desperate three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left and was fouled by Anthony Clemmons.
“The only thing I was thinking was just let me take my time, make the first one, then make the second one, then make the last one. And just my follow through,” DeCosey said.
He made the first two, then the Union, N.J. product stepped up for a third after an Iowa timeout and drained it. The first tie of the game since tip off sent the Hawkeyes and Owls to overtime.
Iowa took control at the start of overtime, but the Owls came back with a three-point play by DeCosey to take a one-point lead.
“I think the hardest thing, if you think about it—okay, we jumped them in overtime. Well, they came back again, and they took the lead again. I think that’s really hard. And that’s why I have so much respect for how we kept fighting because we didn’t shoot it well in overtime. But we did enough to win the game,” McCaffery said. “It never felt like we were out of it. Never stopped battling defensively. Never stopped attacking the glass. Obviously, we tipped one in at the buzzer. It’s a great feeling as a coach to see your team be that resilient.”
Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes with 23 points on 7-21 shooting from the field. They advance to face Villanova on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center.
Iowa came out and shot lights out, making five of their first seven three-point shots, but Temple closed the gap with a 13-0 run to take a lead for a short time in the first half. But the percentages caught up to a team that came in averaging 8.2 three-pointers per game and they made just two of their final 21 three-pointers. The Hawkeyes helped themselves though by only turning the ball over three times in 45 minutes.
“We executed down the stretch as well as we have at any point in time in the last three years. We couldn’t get a shot to go down,” McCaffery said. “So if we’re not coming apart at either end — and what I’m seeing is a group that’s fighting, that understands what we’re trying to do, then I’m fine. I don’t jump to any conclusions or worry because, if I’m worrying, then they’re going to worry, and I don’t want them to worry. And I thought they just kept battling. I was really proud of them.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.