Just when it seemed like Iowa’s late-season slide would end with a whimper, the Hawkeyes responded a rally to extend their season.
Iowa buried 11 of 22 3-point attempts, including 7 of 11 in the second half and earned its first NCAA Tournament win since 2016 with a 79-72 victory over Cincinnati in a first-round game Friday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Nicholas Bear’s 3 from the wing gave No. 10-seed Iowa (23-11) a 62-59 lead with 5:46 left. After No. 7-seed Cincinnati (28-7) tied it, Luka Garza scored two of his game-high 20 points inside to put the Hawkeyes back in front. It was the start of an 18-5 run that eventually saw Iowa go up 73-64 on Bohannon’s three-point play with 1:07 remaining.
The Bearcats got within 77-72 on Jarron Cumberland’s 3 with 20 seconds left, but no closer.
The Hawkeyes fell behind 18-5 early, appearing to continue their form that saw them lose five of their last six games. But Iowa got within 36-31 at halftime and took brief second-half leads on 3-pointers from Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery.
Joe Wieskamp added 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting, including 4-for-6 from deep. He hit two treys during the game-changing 18-5 run. Bohannon finished with 13, Baer 10.
Justin Jenifer led Cincinnati with 19 points, while Cumberland had 18.
The Hawkeyes will play No. 2-seed Tennessee in the second round Sunday.