Trying to steal a win from visiting Ohio State, the Iowa Hawkeyes ran into the long arm of Dallas Lauderdale.
With the Buckeyes clinging to a two-point lead in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the final seconds, Iowa’s Jermain Davis saw a path to the basket and drove to daylight. But as he went up for the game-tying lay-up, the player he had beaten off the dribble – Lauderdale – quickly made up the ground.
The OSU center blocked the shot from behind and the Buckeyes regained possession before holding onto the win, 60-58.
It was not the only chance for glory for Davis in the final seconds, however. After OSU’s Evan Turner missed the front end of a one-and-one with 5.2 seconds remaining, giving the home team hope as it pushed the ball up the court.
Again, the ball found its way to Davis, who this time had a good look at the basket from the right wing as he squared up from behind the arc. With both Lauderdale and OSU’s Jon Diebler closing out on him, Davis’ shot at the buzzer touched the inside of the rim but rolled out.
Only then could the Buckeyes (19-9, 9-8 Big Ten) celebrate a key win that was needed to keep them on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. After losing four of their last five games, the Buckeyes have now won two out of three and are guaranteed to finish no worse than .500 in Big Ten play.
“Dallas Lauderdale had the play of the game on that block on the baseline,” OSU head coach Thad Matta told the Big Ten Network after the game.
The missed free throw was the second failed attempt by Turner to ice the game in the final moment. With his team ahead 60-58, the OSU leading scorer tried to spin through the lane to make it a two-possession game but instead lost the handle and turned the ball over, setting up Lauderdale’s heroics at the other end.
The two plays were the only blemishes on what was otherwise another impressive performance by Turner, who finished with a team-high 22 points and a career-high 9 assists.
He was overshadowed on the stat sheet by Iowa’s Devan Bawinkel. After going 5 for 8 from three-point range in the first meeting between these two teams this season, Bawinkle exploded for a career-high 24 points thanks to an 8-of-13 performance from beyond the arc.
It is the sixth time in Big Ten play that OSU has allowed an opponent to make at least five three-pointers.
Bawinkle hit his seventh three of the night at the midway point of the second half to give his team a 47-46 lead, but from there the Hawkeyes (14-16, 4-13) were just 2 of 8 from beyond the arc against OSU’s 3-2 match-up zone defense. After playing man-to-man defense in the first half, the Buckeyes went back to their patented zone for the final 20 minutes.
His eighth and final three-pointer gave the Hawkeyes their final lead of the night at 55-54 with 4:48 remaining. Bawinkle was complimented by Jake Kelly, who added 19 points in a full 40 minutes of action.
The Buckeyes also got 12 points from Diebler, who finished 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Seldom-used freshman Walter Offutt saw a career-high 16 minutes of action as classmate William Buford was saddled with foul trouble and made his lone shot attempt to finish with two points and one assist.
Although a B.J. Mullens free throw put the Buckeyes ahead 30-29 with 37 seconds left in the first half, the Hawkeyes would go into the locker room with a two-point lead thanks to a three-pointer by Jake Kelly with 5 seconds remaining that set the score at 32-30 in favor of the home team.
Matta said his halftime message to his charges was simple.
“It was, ‘We’ve got to fight,’ ” he said. “Bawinkle was on fire. They’ve got guys that can shoot it.”
The Buckeyes will close out the regular season Sunday at home against Northwestern.