PHOENIX — Peter Jok’s senior season at the University of Iowa may not have turned out exactly the way he hoped, but he gave himself a nice consolation prize Thursday night.
Jok celebrated his 23rd birthday by winning the 3-point shooting contest as part of the Final Four weekend festivities at Grand Canyon University.
Jok had the best score in every round and defeated hometown favorite Dewayne Russell of Grand Canyon in the finals. The GCU student section cheered wildly for Russell in every round but afterward showed some sportsmanship by singing Happy Birthday to Jok.
“I have to admit this is really sweet,’’ Jok said afterward in a television interview. “I had to win this for the state of Iowa.’’
Jok, who led the Big Ten in scoring this season, had a score of 21 in the opening round to advance along with Russell, Duke’s Matt Jones and Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. Among the four shooters who did not get out of the first round were UCLA’s Bryce Alford, son of former Iowa coach Steve Alford, and Iowa State’s Naz Mitrou Long, who chose to shoot wearing sunglasses and had the lowest score (11) of all eight entries.
Jok and Russell then advanced through the semifinals with identical scores of 22. Jok put up a score of 20 in the finals and Russell, despite having the crowd on his side, managed only 16.
“I knew if I went first, I could out the pressure on him,’’ Jok said.
He then had a head-to-head shootout with women's winner Kindred Weseman of Kansas State with each of them getting a score of 16. Weseman was named the winner by virtue of having the best score (26) in any round.