Ronald Dupree led LSU with 19 points, but it was Bright who helped the Tigers overcome Iowa's swarming defense. While Dupree started the game with 13 points in the first 12 minutes, Bright was held to three in the first 20 minutes. But the junior from Slidell rebounded to find his range in the second half.
LSU (19-14) now waits to see who will be their next opponent and whether or not it will play host to a second round game in the NIT. The Tigers will play next Monday against the winner of tomorrow night's game between St. Joseph's and Ball State.
Iowa's season came to an end along with its streak of 25 wins at home against non-conference competition. The Hawkeyes finished the year with a 19-16 record.
"This is one of the best wins this program has had in terms of how the team played, fought and carried out our plan," said LSU head coach John Brady.
The plan for LSU was to stifle the Hawkeyes' top two scorers – forwards Luke Recker and Reggie Evans. Recker helped the Tigers' cause with a poor night from the floor. After ten points in the first half, the former Indiana Hoosier made Iowa's first field goal of the second half and didn't score again the rest of the game.
The Tigers double-team Evans when he got the ball close to the goal. After averaging over 18 points heading into the NIT, the senior had just ten against the Tigers.
"We wanted to double team Evans every time he touched the ball to make him a post passer and not a post scorer," Brady said.
Pierre Pierce, a guard averaging six points a game, led the Hawkeyes with 13 points for the game.
Bright gave LSU its first lead of the second half, 53-52, with just under six minutes to go when he stepped in front of a Brody Boyd pass on the Iowa end and converted the steal into a layup.
With a minute left in the game, Jermaine Williams forced a turnover near the Iowa goal and Bright was fed for a slam-dunk that put the Tigers ahead 60-56.
Williams made another steal that led to the Tigers running time off the clock with their spread offense, but Iowa defense forced a turnover and got to the foul line with 19. 3 seconds left.
Duez Henderson made both free throws for the Hawkeyes, and they fouled Bright after the ensuing in-bounds pass. Bright hit only the front end of his 1-and-1 chance, giving Iowa a chance to tie the game with 18 seconds remaining.
A set play got the ball in Reckers' hands, but his long-range three-pointer hit the front of the rim. Williams got the rebound for LSU and was sent to the line, where he iced the game with two free throws.
Williams hit all eight of his free throw chances and totaled ten points in the game.
LSU controlled the opening 13 minutes of the game, jumping out to a 25-16 lead thanks to 13 points from Dupree. The athletic advantage of the Tigers was obvious, as they were able to beat the Hawkeyes to the goal on a number of occasions.
Dupree broke a 6-6 tie with a layup at the 17:14 mark then made a steal near mid-court as Iowa was bringing the ball down. He took the ball back to the LSU goal, scored on a layup and was fouled. His free throw made the score 11-6.
Bridgewater gave the Tigers an easy slam-dunk with 12:07 to play in the half but was whistled for a technical foul when he slapped the backboard after making the basket. Recker sank the free throws to make the score 17-12.
JueMichael Young made his first appearance since Feb. 16 against Arkansas and gave LSU a 22-14 lead with a 16-foot fall-away jumper at the 9:29. Jared Reiner answered for Iowa with a shot near the basket, but Dupree connected from the left corner to keep the lead at eight.
Young added a field goal at the 7:22 mark to give LSU its largest lead, 25-16, but Dupree's basket turned out to be the last field goal of the half for the Tigers.
A slam dunk from Pierce on a baseline feed got the Hawkeyes within four, 25-21, but Pierce was given a technical for the same offense Bridgewater committed. Williams' free throws put LSU ahead by six.
Using a 7-0 run, Iowa took its first lead of the game. Boyd knocked down one of two free throws to tie the score at 27 with 1:17, and Evans did the same 44 seconds later for a 28-27 Hawkeye edge.Williams drew a foul with 20.4 to go before the break and took care of a 1-and-1 at the line to put LSU ahead 29-28. A steal on the Iowa end went to Williams but his heave at the buzzer missed to keep the Tigers ahead by one at halftime.