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    Jenkins' OT Heroics Propel Wildcats Past Iowa, 75-74

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Michael Jenkins is hoisted up by teammates and fans after hitting a last-second, three-pointer.
    Michael Jenkins is hoisted up by teammates and fans after hitting a last-second, three-pointer.

    Jan. 26, 2005

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Senior walk-on Michael Jenkins found himself wide open in the corner, took the inbounds pass and let fly with a high-arching shot.

    Then, like everyone else in Welsh-Ryan Arena, he watched as the ball bounced on the rim once...twice...and then fell through in concert with the final buzzer, giving Northwestern a stunning 75-74 overtime victory over No. 23 Iowa Wednesday night.

    How long did the ball stay on the rim? After the second bounce, the crowd noticeably expressed disappointment -- seemingly expecting the ball to fall away -- before exploding as the ball twisted through the twine.

    "I saw it hit the rim and I figured I'd get a shooter's roll from the beginning," said Jenkins, who finished with a career-high nine points thanks to that final trey. "The point is, it went in."

    Northwestern players and fans raced to the floor to mob the 5-foot-9 Jenkins following a dramatic victory that saw the Wildcats rally from 12 points down with just 3:27 to go in regulation.

    "That last play we wanted to get two points, but obviously it worked out well," NU head coach Bill Carmody said. "You have to be lucky. That shot doesn't have to go down, and some of their good free throw shooters missed. We were fortunate."

    Wednesday's win not only snapped a four-game losing streak for Northwestern (9-9, 2-4) -- it was the Wildcats' seventh at home against a ranked opponent under Carmody, against five losses in such games. In addition, NU has now defeated at least one ranked opponent during each of Carmody's five seasons.

    The win was also NU's third in a row against Iowa, the first time that has happened since the 'Cats beat the Hawkeyes twice in 1931 and took the first meeting of the 1932 season.

    Vedran Vukusic, who was doubtful to start because of a sore shoulder, instead played 43 minutes and scored a career-high 32 points for Northwestern, including a staggering 13 in the final two minutes of regulation.

    Greg Brunner had a career-high 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting for Iowa (14-5, 2-4), but that could not save the Hawkeyes from their second crushing defeat in less than a week. Six days ago, they lost in overtime at top-ranked Illinois. Wednesday night, they missed 11 of 26 free throws in the second half and overtime -- and that contributed greatly to their loss.

    Jeff Horner's three-pointer put Iowa up 71-68 in overtime, and Pierre Pierce's jumper gave the Hawkeyes a five-point cushion before Vukusic had two free throws and a layup to make it 73-72.

    Brunner made one of two free throws, and then Horner -- an 80-percent shooter from the line -- missed twice, giving the Wildcats another chance with 18 seconds to go.

    After a timeout with 10.6 seconds left, Northwestern turned it over when T.J Parker's backdoor pass could not be handled by Vukusic in traffic. However, Parker -- who scored 12 points and joined Vukusic as the only NU players in double figures -- made up for it by coming up with the steal on Pierce's inbounds pass (Pierce's 10th turnover of the game).

    Following two timeouts with 2.7 seconds left, the 5-foot-9 Jenkins got open in the left corner, took the inbounds pass from Tim Doyle, and set off pandemonium when his shot finally went in.

    Vukusic had sent the game to overtime when he hit three straight free throws after being fouled by Pierce on a 3-point attempt with 13.8 seconds left in regulation.

    "I wasn't thinking about it being the end of the game, and if I miss it's over," Vukusic said of his free throws. "I said, 'there are three shots and you better make them.'"

    Pierce's jumper just before the buzzer went off the rim, forcing overtime.

    "We had a chance to put them away in regulation and did not execute," Pierce said.

    After going six minutes without a field goal, Northwestern trailed by 12 before Vukusic hit two 3-pointers, two layups and the three free throws to rescue the Wildcats.

    "Vukusic was the toughest kid on the floor. He had shoulder problems and still managed to score 32 points," Iowa head coach Steve Alford said.

    "Our defense saved the game," Vukusic said (NU forced 19 Iowa turnovers and had nine steals). "We pressured them man-to-man, and they got lost and didn't know what to do."

    Pierce added 15 points for the Hawkeyes, while Adam Haluska scored 12.

    Northwestern is at home again Saturday, hosting Ohio State in the only meeting between the two teams this season. Tipoff for that game is 11:15 a.m.