IOWA CITY, Iowa — As Carver-Hawkeye Arena fell silent for the singing of the national anthem, a lone voice yelled out, “Vincent Grier sucks!”
Grier nearly made that fan eat his words, but missed potential game-winning shots at the end of regulation and overtime in Minnesota’s basketball team’s triple-overtime thriller against Iowa on Wednesday night.
Instead, the 23rd-ranked Hawkeyes came away with the 76-72 win, extending their home win streak to 12 games dating back to last season, and keeping the Gophers winless in the Big Ten.
At the end of regulation, Grier missed a pull-up jumper just across the three-point line. Then the senior guard missed another jumper as time expired at the end of the first overtime.
“I called a couple other things in those time outs, both times,” coach Dan Monson said. “It’s what Vince wanted, and again, I was trying to go to the best player.”
Iowa was unable to hit a desperation three-pointer at the end of the second overtime, but was able to come through in the third overtime to pull off the win.
In the second overtime, Minnesota led 67-63 with 2:02 remaining. But Iowa forced a third overtime when the Gophers missed all four of their free throws down the stretch.
“When you have a chance on the road, and we had many, you have to finish it,” Monson said. “(The team) didn’t take it by the throat and finish it when it had an opportunity, and Iowa’s a very veteran team, and they did.”
In the end, it came down to the play of the Hawkeyes’ post players — senior forward Greg Brunner and senior center Erek Hansen.
Hansen led all scorers with 20 points and added five blocks. He was also a perfect 6-6 from the free-throw line. Iowa shot 72.4 percent from the charity stripe in the game.
Brunner had 17 points and an eye-popping 23 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.
The Gophers had two players notch double-doubles. Grier had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and freshman center Jonathan Williams came off the bench and got his first double-double of his career with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Williams seemed to provide the spark that brought Minnesota back into the game.
The redshirt freshman opened the second half with a lay-in over Brunner and Hansen, then hit both his free throws after being fouled while attempting a dunk just 52 seconds later.
When asked what he brought to the game, Williams responded: “Energy.”
“When we give (the seniors) energy, they respond to it,” he said. “They’re great energy guys.”
Unfortunately for Minnesota, that energy didn’t carry over to the free throw line.
Coming into the game, the Gophers were 10th in the Big Ten in free-throw percentage, shooting a paltry 63.8 percent from the line.
Against the Hawkeyes, Minnesota shot a meager 54.2 percent.
“You can’t go on the road against a quality team like this and shoot 54 percent from the line and survive,” Monson said. “And that ultimately tolled out.”
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