BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Tom Crean and his Indiana players reveled in the moment Wednesday night.
They partied with the fans, had fun in the locker room and savored every wild moment from this postgame.
Why not, after all this?
Devan Dumes scored 27 points, Nick Williams finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, and both came up with crucial steals, leading the Hoosiers past Iowa 68-60 to barely avoid setting a school record for consecutive losses.
"I said in the locker room this will be the toughest win we'll ever get because we hadn't won in so long," Crean said. "At times, it looked like we were running on fumes, but I think we were trying to get rid of that 50- to 75-pound weight that was on our back."
For Indiana (6-15, 1-8), it was more than a relief.
The Hoosiers hadn't won since Dec. 10, had blown two 20-point leads during the record-tying skid and came within a whisker of winning twice despite having the youngest team in the Big Ten.
But instead of giving in to those who had already written off this season, the Hoosiers overcame the usual problems.
They matched a season low with 11 turnovers and actually had more points off turnovers than the Hawkeyes (12-11, 2-8). They spent the final seven minutes without their most consistent post player, Tom Pritchard, and when Iowa rallied to get within a 3-pointer in the final 46 seconds, Indiana finally responded.
The combination set off a celebration that is usually reserved for national championships and major upsets in Bloomington.
Players chest-bumped and raised their fists before the buzzer sounded, and after the clock hit zero, Crean joined the festivities.
He walked into the stands behind Indiana's bench to shake hands before hugging his wife. A few moments later, Crean strolled to midcourt, grabbed the microphone and thanked the fans for their support.
Things were just getting started.
Crean and his players then took a victory lap, walking first to the student section behind the south baseline, and in the locker room finally presented athletic director Fred Glass with a game ball.
It seemed a fitting tribute for a program trying to fight back from its first NCAA scandal in decades.
"I don't know if you saw us with the student section, but it was really fun," senior Kyle Taber said after matching a career high with seven points.
Iowa helped the Hoosiers out with an uncharacteristic night. The Hawkeyes' usually solid 3-point shooters were 6-of-20, and their free-throw shooting was off, too. Coming into Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes were shooting 74.7 percent from the free-throw line, but on Wednesday they were just 14-of-21, a major difference in what became a close game.
"There was a lot of fight in us at the end," coach Todd Lickliter said. "I think we've just got to play, like I've said all along, a lot more consistently and with a lot more strength."
Instead, Indiana had the finishing touch.
It built a 33-20 halftime lead and extended the margin to 49-30 with 11:58 left before Iowa charged back.
The Hawkeyes closed to 52-36, then ran off eight straight to get within nine with 7:33 left. Fifteen seconds later, Pritchard's fifth foul seemed to open the door for Iowa, which hadn't overcome a deficit of more than seven all season.
Rather than let the Hawkeyes take advantage, though, Taber, Indiana's only senior, posted up for two layups to make it 57-44.
That's when the Hoosiers finally delivered the knockout blow.
Dumes stole the ball and after a missed layup, Williams scored on a putback. Williams then stole the inbounds pass and gave it to Dumes, who was fouled. He hit both free throws to seal it and set off a celebration players and coaches had waited nearly two months to witness.
"I'm just focused on the second half of the season, and coach told us we can make some magic things happen," Dumes said. "It's just really exciting to finally get that first win. There was a lot of smiles in the locker room and a lot of relief."
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