Assembly Hall stood silent as the ball drifted through the air.
With her team down three with three seconds left in regulation, junior forward Amanda Cahill caught the in-bounds pass. She took one dribble left and released. It was a shot IU needed. The Hoosiers had an NCAA Tournament bid on the line. Cahill’s shot needed to find the bottom of the net. It ultimately did. That was just the start of what turned out to be 10 minutes of extra basketball.
It took two overtimes, but IU got a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes they so desperately needed by a score of 80-77 Wednesday night at Assembly Hall.
“They just maintained that attitude and that persona through timeouts,” IU Coach Teri Moren said. “Resilience, toughness, we’re coming off of a tough, bitter loss at Nebraska. We wanted to get this one tonight, we knew we had to.”
Both sides went blow for blow all night. Iowa would hit a shot, then IU would answer back. For nearly 50 minutes they went back and forth.
In the final quarter, the lead was no bigger than four points in IU’s favor. With the game on the line, the Hoosiers needed someone to step up. That happened to be Cahill. After Iowa knocked down a 3-pointer with three seconds left, the Clyde, Ohio, native stepped up and, through contact, sent Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall into delirium when the shot fell through the net.
It was tied at 64 and overtime was on the horizon. Moren said the play was designed especially for Cahill and the junior did what the team needed.
“Honestly, it was kind of a blur,” Cahill said. “They set the screen to get me open and someone said I was open when I first got it, but I took a dribble and shot it and I don’t know, it was kind of a blur. Luckily it went in.”
That was just the beginning. The first overtime was much like regulation — back and forth. Iowa got its lead out to 72-66, but IU wasn’t going to let this game slip. Not on Senior Day, not with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line. IU rallied behind all three of its senior starters to tie it up at 73 and sent it to another five-minute overtime period.
In the second overtime, IU took control, but things got quite interesting inside Assembly Hall when junior guard Tyra Buss fouled out with 2:22 left. She left with a team-high 21 points. She had played the entire game. Now, IU would have to go on without its point guard and go-to player. They were up three at the time, and from there were able to hold off a stingy Iowa team.
“That wasn’t the plan, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way,” IU senior Karlee McBride said. “Fans stayed in it, we stayed in it and to feel that feeling of being in Assembly Hall, the game was on the line. That’s something you dream of.”
In a game IU could ill-afford to lose, it answered the call in a big way. Both Iowa and IU are sitting squarely on the bubble. Everyone in Assembly Hall had to have an idea of what was on the line.
Moren thanked the crowd in her postgame press conference after the game and said they were tremendous. She praised the resiliency of her team, which was down 6-0 early and only led for just more than nine minutes compared to Iowa’s 27 minutes. In a split decision, the Hoosiers just edged the Hawkeyes.
“It tells you a little bit about who we are as a team,” Moren said. “We’ve had some peaks and valleys. We’re one game away from a 20-win season. We’ve had some twists and turns to the season, ups and downs, but we’ve had some really good moments too. Today we were able to add onto those great moments.”
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