Jan. 25, 2014
By Callie Counsellor
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern had another upset in mind, but No. 10 Iowa used a second-half surge to down the Wildcats, 76-50.
"I really thought in the first half we were playing the game we needed to play," NU head coach Chris Collins said. "I just thought they wore us down...It was more about them playing good than us playing poorly. They're a really good team and we're just not at that level right now."
Facing its fifth ranked team this month, NU stuck close in the first half despite some shooting and rebounding woes thanks to more hard-nosed defense against the top-ranked scoring offense in the Big Ten. The Cats held Iowa to nearly 10 points below its season scoring average.
Drew Crawford set the pace for the Wildcats in the opening period with 13 points. The redshirt senior hit NU's first two field goals of the game, both three-pointers. The second one tied the game at eight and came as the result of a monster block by Sanjay Lumpkin.
With just over 13 minutes left in the half, Dave Sobolewski entered the game to cheers from the Welsh Ryan Arena crowd after missing the last four games with a concussion. The junior dished out three assists and played 10 minutes in his return to action, as Collins tried to determine where Sobolewski will fit for the rest of the season.
"That's my job, that's his job, to integrate him back into the defense...That's all of our challenge," Collins said. "We don't have a lot of depth so we're going to need him, and we're going to need him to play well."
Midway through the half, Iowa went on a 9-2 run to build a seven-point lead, as NU's shooting percentage fell to just 25 percent. But after a timeout with just under eight minutes left, down by eight, the Cats put on the afterburners and cut the lead in half thanks to two layups from Crawford.
NU entered halftime down by only six, despite a 31 percent shooting percentage compared to Iowa's 50 percent and 12 rebounds versus Iowa's 23.
NU's defensive prowess generated more big plays in the second half. Alex Olah got a hand on a layup by Iowa's Adam Woodbury, knocking the ball to JerShon Cobb, who found Tre Demps streaking down midcourt. Demps pulled up just short of the three point line and nailed the shot, cutting the lead to four with 17 minutes to play.
However, when NU's defense began to falter, Iowa took advantage. The Hawkeyes managed to fight their way into the paint for a layup nine times in the second half and also made 50 percent of their three-pointers. With just under 10 minutes left, the visitors had built an 18-point lead and the Cats never came within 14 for the rest of the game.
Crawford, who finished with a team-high 20 points and became NU's career leader in games played (131) and started (130), said the second half play was not representative of the team's ability or effort.
"We can't just lay down and die, and we did that a little bit today," he said.
"It's an 18-game league," Collins said. "You've got to play them one at a time and now we've got Wisconsin."
Northwestern will head to Madison, Wis., to take on the Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 8:00 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and can be heard on AM 560.
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