IOWA CITY — Greg Gard, in his seventh season as Wisconsin’s full-time head coach, has aptly dubbed the 2022-23 Team Drama.
“It’s okay,” sophomore point guard Chucky Hepburn said after the UW’s latest win was decided in the final seconds. “It’s going great.”
Want drama? The unranked Badgers provided plenty on Sunday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
They led by eight points with a minute left in regulation and five points with 23 seconds left. They saw Iowa erase those leads and force overtime, then take a three-point lead five times in the extra period.
Unfazed, the Badgers got the go-ahead basket from Steven Crowl, who barely beat the shot clock; two crucial free throws from Chucky Hepburn; a late dunk from Connor Essegian; and one last stop to win, 78-75, in front of a crowd of 12,430.
“We tend not to make things as easy as they should be,” a relieved Gard said with a smile. “Thanks to Iowa for making a few plays at the end to catch us.
“But the grit, the effort and the courage of our group, which continues to show night after night, cannot be questioned. That’s what it took to be able to come back from behind in extra time and seal things up. .
“A lot of things we didn’t do right or right or fix. But again, this is a team that keeps fighting and finds a way.”
Count the paths.
Tyler Wahl led UW with 21 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. He entered the night 2 of 15 from three-pointers and was 0-for-1 against Iowa when he got a screen from Crowl and buried a three-pointer to forge a 69-69 tie with two minutes remaining. .
“I’ve been working hard and I have to keep shooting at it,” Wahl said. “The ball will go in.
“I was open and let it fly.”
Essegian added 14 points, six rebounds and an assist. His turnover in the final seconds of regulation led to a three-point tie for Iowa, but he still had game-winning plays and made 5 of 11 shots.
“It was a freshman mistake,” Hepburn said of Essegian’s turnover at the end of settlement. “I probably did that. You just have to move on.
Crowl finished with 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds and one block. The hook he hit to beat the shot clock gave UW a 74-73 lead with 47.5 seconds left in overtime.
“Jordan started yelling at me and I knew I had to shoot,” Crowl said, referring to teammate Jordan Davis. “It was all him.”
Hepburn contributed 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Like Wahl, one of his interceptions came in the final 27 seconds of the game. His two free throws, for a 76-73 lead, came after his final steal.
Carter Gilmore had eight points and four rebounds, Max Klesmit added seven points and Davis (five points, two rebounds) hit a massive three-pointer with 1:43 left in overtime to forge a 72-72 tie.
Before the three-point tie, Davis’ last shot came with 14:51 left in regulation.
“He’s got the confidence to go out there and shoot it,” Wahl said of Davis. “It’s the game that’s close to my heart.”
The Badgers (8-2, 2-0 Big Ten) extended their winning streak to three games and tied for first place with fourth-placed Purdue (10-0, 2-0).
Iowa (7-3, 0-1) lost for the second time in three games.
Patrick McCaffery scored 24 points and Connor McCaffery and Tony Perkins added 17 points each for the Hawkeyes, who were without forward Kris Murray (19.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg), sidelined for Game 2 consecutive due to left foot injury; and guard Ahron Ulis (6.4 ppg).
Patrick McCaffery’s three-point shot ended with a second remaining and Essegian grabbed the rebound to secure the victory.
UW prevailed despite only 6 of 22 three-pointers (27.3%). Recall that the Badgers had made a combined 41 of 100 three-pointers in the previous four games. They attempted just 11 free throws and made only six and committed 18 fouls. And while they held Iowa to a season-low 42.2 percent shooting rate, their defense was too lenient at times.
“There are so many things,” Gard said of the mistakes. “Tuesday’s cinema session can last three hours.”
Yet despite losing their minds at the end of regulation, the UW regrouped before the end of overtime was as calm as the eye of a storm.
“We said we just needed to breathe,” Hepburn said. “Calm.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted, but we still have five minutes so we can’t let our heads down. You have to move on.”
Sunday was UW’s seventh straight game decided by five runs or less. UW is 5-2 in those games.
“I wasn’t aware,” Wahl said, “but I know we’ve played in a lot of tight games. It was the same last year. We just have a lot of badass coming here to win games.”
The Gard is aging through play, but it cannot dispute the results or the courage of its players.
“They don’t flinch,” he said. “They keep fighting. They don’t do everything right. But I can never question their efforts or their intent. They keep giving me everything they have.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Badgers recover atop Iowa in overtime after losing late lead
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