IOWA CITY — Tania Davis knew it the second it left her hand.
The Iowa senior stepped back and stepped up Wednesday, knocking down a 3-point basket with 2.6 seconds remaining to give the 16th-rated Hawkeyes a 73-70 women’s basketball victory over Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"All those hours in the gym by myself, step back jumper after step back jumper, it was going down," Davis said. "I had all the confidence I needed. It was just like the shots I took when nobody was looking."
Davis’ game-winning basket allowed Iowa to earn its third straight win in the Cy-Hawk Series, something the Hawkeyes had not accomplished since winning 10 straight against its in-state rival in games played between 1982 and 1996.
"She’s going to remember that shot for the rest of her life," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "With what she’s been through for her to have an opportunity to have a game-winner in her senior season, especially against Iowa State, it’s pretty awesome."
The deciding basket came over the outstretched arms of Iowa State senior Bridget Carleton, who left Davis with just enough room to get her shot off from the left of the key.
"She gave me too much space," Davis said. "… Coming off that screen as I backed up, I got a little bit of daylight and was able to shoot it over her."
Davis is back on the court this season after working her way back from a pair of anterior cruciate ligament tears.
"We did everything we could to defend that shot," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "That’s what seniors do."
The Cyclones had one final look following a timeout, and with the Hawkeyes’ defense doubling down on Carleton, Iowa State freshman Ashley Joens had an open look from the right corner.
The Iowa City native’s attempt rattled off the back of the iron as time expired.
"Two people came to me so I passed it to Ash," Carleton said. “She was wide open in the corner, and she’ll hit that shot. That’s a shot she’ll hit. I told her afterward, we’ll get the next one."
The Cyclones forced a fight to the finish by overcoming an early 13-point deficit, limiting the Hawkeyes to 2-of-17 shooting in the third quarter to take a 56-53 lead into the fourth.
Megan Gustafson, who erased Iowa’s 38-year-old career rebounding record just over five minutes into the game when she grabbed the fourth of her 16 rebounds, knocked down a free throw to complete a three-point play and tie the game with 8 minutes, 59 seconds left.
Limited by ISU to seven field goal attempts, Gustafson’s effort set up a frantic back-and-forth fourth quarter in a match-up between two teams now both 6-2 that saw 12 ties and 10 lead changes.
Carleton, who led Iowa State with 21 points, gave the Cyclones their last lead at 69-68 on a drive with :49 left, and she tied the game at 70-70 by hitting the first of two free throws with :27 to go after Kathleen Doyle had given the Hawkeyes a 70-69 edge.
Playing for the first time this season after breaking bones in her non-shooting hand on Nov. 2, Doyle was cleared to play late Monday and practiced just once before leading all scorers with a 22-point performance.
"She gave us as much defensively as she did on offense," Bluder said. "It was good to get her out there, and it did give our entire team a lift. Everybody was pretty excited about it."
Doyle’s work was complemented by 14 points from Hannah Stewart and 13 from Gustafson. It also included a 6-of-6 touch at the line, part of an effort which saw Iowa hit all 15 of its free throws.
Bluder called the perfect night at the line "essential."
Iowa State found it frustrating.
"We go 9-of-17 at the line," Fennelly said. "You can’t do that and expect to go on the road and beat a top-20 team. That’s a good Iowa team and we came in and held our own. Our day is coming."