Freshman Joe Toussaint awoke the 18th-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team late in the second half as the Hawkeyes rallied from 12 points down to defeat Wisconsin, 68-62, on Monday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win moves Iowa to 15-5 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play — one game behind league-leading Illinois.
The Hawkeyes trailed 57-45 with 7:13 following a D’mitrik Trice 3-pointer. After junior Luka Garza made one free throw to get Iowa to within 11, Toussaint stole a Trice pass, drove the length of the floor, absorbed contact, and scored. His free throw completed a three-point play to get Iowa to within 57-49 with 6:28 left.
“Joe changed the whole complexion of the game the last four minutes,” said redshirt freshman CJ Fredrick. “With his change of pace and defensively, the big and one. He was big for us.”
Iowa cut the margin to 57-51 off two Joe Wieskamp free throws and Fredrick’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to 57-54 with 5:08 to play. The Hawkeyes tied the game at 57 with 2:18 left before Brevin Pritzl’s layup put the Badgers back on top, 59-57, with 1:47 left.
Following an Iowa 30-second timeout, Toussaint’s three-point play gave Iowa its first lead of the second half (60-59) — one it wouldn’t relinquish.
“The play was designed for Luka, but I saw them cheating on Luka, and I saw open space,” said Toussaint. “I took what they gave me and thank God the shot went in.”
The Hawkeyes scored nine of the final 12 points over the final 1:20 and outscored Wisconsin, 23-5, over the final 7:18.
“The key was getting stops,” said Toussaint. “Wisconsin is a tough team. We just have to be tougher than them. Coach kept telling us we have to get stops. We have to get three, four, five stops in a row.”
Garza posted his Big Ten-leading 12th double-double, finishing with 21 points and 18 rebounds despite an un-Garza-like shooting night. The center was 6-of-17 from the field, but made up for it by going 9-of-13 from the free throw line.
Fredrick scored 17 points, Wieskamp had a double-double — his third of the season — finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Toussaint had 11 points and four assists.
The Hawkeyes won despite shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and making 3-of-20 attempts (15 percent) from 3-point range. Iowa had a 19-point advantage from the free throw line (25-to-6) and out-rebounded Wisconsin, 46-40.
“It was an off night for all of us — we only hit three 3-pointers — but we battled it out until the end,” said Toussaint. “It was an ugly win, but we got the job done.”
Trice led the Badgers with 16 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.