Pierre Pierce found a new way Monday to raise the ire of Iowa basketball fans.
Kicked off the team eight years ago following his second arrest on sexual assault charges, the former Hawkeye hit a game-winning shot in overtime to hand Iowa its first loss in five games during its ongoing exhibition tour of England and France.
Pierce finished off a game-high, 19-point effort when he hit the buzzer-beating shot for Hyeres-Toulon Basket in an 84-82 win in Toulon, France.
“Feels pretty good hitting my first game winner today lol,’’ Pierce wrote on his Twitter account following the game, adding, “wish the #Hawkeyes best of luck this season and safe travels back.’’
His deciding basket came after the Hawkeyes overcame a six-point deficit in the final 30 seasons of regulation, tying the game at 71-71 when Aaron White scored on an inbounds play following a turnover with .08 of a second remaining.
The 30-year-old Pierce is in his second stint with Hyeres-Toulon Basket, a French professional team. He played for the organization from 2008-10 and again beginning last December but Iowa officials say they were unaware until they arrived at the arena Monday that Pierce was part of a team which would suit up against the Hawkeyes.
“The opponents on this trip were scheduled by an outside agency with the task of getting competitive games,’’ Iowa sports information director Steve Roe said. “This team would have never been scheduled by a member of the university staff.’’
Pierce, a guard from Westmont, Ill., was first charged with sexual assault in 2002 after an incident involving another Iowa athlete but was allowed to remain with the program as part of a plea deal which required him to redshirt during the 2002-03 season.
He returned to the Hawkeyes the following year and played 20 games during the 2004-05 season before he was immediately dismissed from the team after being charged again.
Following that incident, Pierce served 11 months in prison after being found guilty of third degree burglary, criminal trespass, false imprisonment and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse.
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After his release, Iowa court officials denied repeated requests by Pierce which would have allowed him to travel to play overseas but eventually permitted him to do so in 2008 when he first signed with Hyeres-Toulon Basket. He also played professionally in Greece, Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia before returning to France last winter.
Monday, he knocked down 7-of-14 shots including 4-of-7 from 3-point range to defeat his former college team.
The game was tight throughout, with Iowa trailing 36-35 at halftime and 69-63 before Zach McCabe hit a 3-pointer with just under 30 seconds remaining. A tip-in by McCabe with 2 seconds left in regulation set up White’s game-tying basket on a lob from Devyn Marble on an inbounds play which followed a turnover.
“It seemed like the game was over when they made a 3-pointer with a minute left,’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “But, we kept attacking, made a couple shots, forced some turnovers and made the shot that sent the game to overtime. We made mistakes, and tried to recover from them, but that’s how you grow.’’
Marble led the Hawkeye with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while Melsahn Basabe finished with 15 and McCabe had 11 points to go with 10 rebounds.
Iowa plays the final game on its tour today, facing Fos-Ouest Basket at 11 a.m.