By John Bohnenkamp
INDIANAPOLIS — It was Jordan Bohannon’s run to nowhere.
Bohannon’s banked 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left gave Iowa an 80-77 win over Indiana in Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal.
It also sent the sixth-year guard on a circuitous journey of joy around the Gainbridge Fieldhouse court.
“I was running in circles, I didn’t know where to go because I was so excited,” Bohannon said. “To be in that moment, it’s been so much fun.”
“He really didn’t know what exactly to do in that situation,” forward Patrick McCaffery said, smiling. “He just chose to run around.”
Add this to a career of big shots for Bohannon — 177 games, 452 threes, six years of tormenting opponents.
The legend was built on the home court of Bohannon’s youth, when he dared not to enter the lane for fear of the fouls that only older brothers can deliver.
“I just had to shoot those shots,” Bohannon said. “So in a way it kind of prepared me to be a deeper end shooter and shoot the ball well from that kind of distance.”
Bohannon had four 3-pointers in Saturday’s game. Three came in the last 2:25, the last a 30-foot banker that caused Indiana’s Trey Galloway, who was in Bohannon’s shadow yet couldn’t stop the shot, to put his hands on his knees, head down, the energy of Indiana’s own brilliant run through the bracket here sapped by a shooter who has knocked down big shots over other Hoosiers before.
“To be honest, I thought it was going in the whole way,” McCaffery said. “It looked good to me, from my vantage point. Jordan’s made big shots his whole life, so it was something that was really cool. You get flooded with emotions. Mine was like, ‘Holy shit.’”
Iowa’s Keegan Murray, who has had his own brilliance in this tournament, including 32 points in this game, crashed in case he had to rebound, because it’s what he does. But he knew.
“For me, any time Jordan shoots the ball, I think it’s going to go in, so that shot was no different than a wide-open shot you would take off a kick-out,” Murray said. “But no, I thought it was going to go in. I just had to crash the glass just to make sure.”
“I thought it was going to be long and then it banked in, and sometimes that’s what happens,” said Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. “It’s March, so, obviously, March Madness. It’s a crazy, crazy time of year.”
The Hawkeyes seem built for crazy. They’ve won 11 of their last 13, a run that started with the first game of February and continued into the postseason.
Oh, it’s fun, McCaffery said.
“It was pretty awesome (in the locker room),” he said. “Just a bunch of guys dancing, screaming.
“This ride, it’s just been awesome.”
The Hawkeyes came to Indianapolis off losing 74-72 at Illinois to close the regular season. They steamrolled Northwestern by 46 points, Rutgers by 10, then rallied from eight points down with 4:18 to play to win this game.
“They kept coming, but so did we,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “I remember about four minutes to go we’re down five and I just felt like in the huddle that these guys kept believing and that’s what they had to do.”
Bohannon was a non-factor for so much of his game. He missed six of his first seven shots, then made his last three.
“I really didn’t get a lot going, honestly, into the game,” Bohannon said. “I was just trying to play my game and wait for the game to come to me. You know, something my dad always would tell me when I was little, you know, when things aren’t going, don’t try to force the issue, just continue playing your game and good things will always happen.”
It’s been a career of good things and bad things for Bohannon. He is in the final games of his time with the Hawkeyes, and this is his last chance for a Big Ten trophy.
“I’m me, nothing’s changed,” Bohannon said. “I’m the same person as I was as a freshman. I’ve had my ups and downs, but the guy two seats down from me, Coach McCaffery, is one of the few coaches who believed in me coming out of high school and without him I don’t know who I would be. I tried to do everything I can to represent this university as well as I could and without him, I honestly don’t know where I’d be. So I just try to make the most of the opportunities he’s given me.”
Bohannon was asked about what the shot meant to him.
“Just flashing back to all the other opportunities I’ve had to play at this level,” Bohannon said. “From game 1 to 177 I’ve tried to do the most I can to represent this jersey and represent those that came before me. You know, I’ve met so much alumni, people that played here. I looked up to so many of these guys that played here before me and I’ve continued to just try to live up to their name.”
The final play was originally going to be a Bohannon shot from the corner, but Fran McCaffery said the Hoosiers had jammed it with their defense. As time was winding down, McCaffery thought about calling a timeout, then he saw Bohannon, at the top of the offense, ready to shoot.
He knows how that usually ends.
“As long as he’s shooting it,” McCaffery said, “it’s probably better than anything I could have drawn up anyway.”
Photo: Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon celebrates after his game-winning 3-pointer against Indiana on Saturday. (Brian Ray/hawkeyesports.com)