Pierce scored game-high 19 points and sank a game-winning shot in overtime against his former school on Monday night to hand Iowa its first loss in five games on its exhibition tour of England and France.
"Felt pretty good hitting my first game winner today lol," Pierce tweeted after Hyeres-Toulon's 84-82 victory. "Wish the #hawkeyes best of luck this season and safe travels back."
A two-point exhibition loss to a French pro team wouldn't normally bother Iowa fans, but it has to sting a bit that Pierce is the one who delivered it. Pierce was accused of sexual assault twice during his Iowa career, sparking perhaps the most divisive controversy in Hawkeyes basketball history.
Many wanted Pierce dismissed from school after a female student-athlete accused him of sexual assault in 2002, but coach Steve Alford proclaimed his innocence and allowed him to stay on the team after he reached a plea deal brokered by university officials. That backfired in 2005 when Iowa had no choice but to throw Pierce off the team after another incident involving a woman.
Pierce served 11 months in prison after being found guilty of third degree burglary, false imprisonment, criminal trespassing and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. Iowa sports information director Steve Roe told the Quad City Times the school was unaware Pierce was on the opposing team Monday until Iowa arrived at the arena.
"The opponents on this trip were scheduled by an outside agency with the task of getting competitive games," Roe said. "This team would have never been scheduled by a member of the university staff."
It's plausible Iowa wouldn't have known Pierce was a member of Hyeres-Toulon since teams seldom scout opponents on their exhibition tours, but the Hawkeye administration still has to be seething about the blunder.
It's bad enough for Pierce to be on the same floor as Iowa. It's even worse that he sent the Hawkeyes home in defeat.
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