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IOWA CITY — You can’t do a Senior Night better than the Iowa men’s basketball team did Monday.
OK, the No. 24 Hawkeyes cruised past Northwestern 82-61 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for their fourth-straight win to get to 11-7 in the Big Ten. It was a mundane game, but with many moments to tug at heartstrings and perhaps question reality.
Austin Ash, one of the three Iowa players to go through the pregame ceremonies for the seniors and three student-managers, made a shot from Caitlin Clark territory with 4:55 left.
Ash passed to fellow senior Connor McCaffery late in the shot clock, and the crowd groaned. McCaffery immediately whipped the ball back to Ash.
“Shoot it! Shoot it!” Ash said he was told by McCaffery. “I’m like ‘I’m deep, I’m really deep.’”
From the Tigerhawk logo, former walk-on Ash swished the bomb.
“He makes that very easy,” McCaffery said. “That shot’s insane, but that’s an easy shot for him.”
It got topped. During the media timeout with 3:53 left, Iowa’s team had set it up for manager Jack Devlin to shoot half-court shots. “Almost like an open gym,” Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon said later.
The players, enjoying a 78-50 lead, paid attention to nothing in the timeout but Devlin. His second attempt split the net.
The entire team mobbed him on the court in ecstasy. The fans went bananas, with their loudest roar on a night with many such sounds. Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery chest bumped and bear hugged Devlin, the most un-McCaffery timeout behavior of all-time.
It’s far from the first time Devlin had hit from half-court. In 2020, he was featured in BTN’s “The Journey,” and was shown making such a shot at an Iowa practice and then getting mobbed by the players. He has gone through the UI’s REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes), a certificate program in the College of Education for students ages 18 to 25 with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities.
Things were pretty sweet for seniors Bohannon and Connor McCaffery, too. They scored 18 and 17 points, respectively. McCaffery’s emergence as a 3-point dagger-thrower continued as he made 5 of 9, giving him 11 of 15 over the last four games.
Bohannon’s final points at Carver came on a 3-pointer, naturally. He is the Big Ten’s all-time leader in 3s, after all. When he and Connor McCaffery were taken out with 2:48 left, Bohannon got to his knees at midcourt and kissed that Tigerhawk logo.
“Everything just hit me,” Bohannon said. “The announcer saying my name for one last time after all the blood, sweat, tears that I put in to that court.
“It’s something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
Connor McCaffery has spent a lot of time around Iowa’s head coach. He said he’s seen his dad cry maybe three times ever. One was when the father embraced his son after pulling him from the game.
“For him and for me, it was incredibly emotional,” Fran McCaffery said. “For his mother, she was bawling the minute she walked in the arena.”
The first time McCaffery let his oldest son go with one of his teams on a road trip, Connor wanted to sit on his dad’s lap during the game. Now here was the son as a man, knocking down five 3s for his father’s 21-8 team.
“I’m always thinking pass-first,” Connor said. “I don’t think that’s ever going to change. But it definitely comes down to being more aggressive, thinking about attacking more offensive areas.”
Meanwhile, sophomore forward Keegan Murray merely had 26 points and 18 rebounds. It was almost surely his home-finale, too, but there are no ceremonies for NBA lottery picks-in-waiting.
“He does everything,” said Northwestern Coach Chris Collins. “I don’t know what kind of player you put on him. He gets out on transition, he makes 3s, he drives you from the perimeter and he posts mismatches inside, and he’s a monster on the glass.
“Other than that he stinks.”
Well, Murray didn’t make a shot from half-court Monday. But a student-manager picked up the slack for him.
“It was a scripted night,” Bohannon said.
That script had laughter, tears, and quite the happy ending for everyone in the Hawkeyes’ camp.
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