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    Wildcats Can't Come Back This Time; Fall 66-58 at Iowa

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Sterling Williams looks to pass the ball during the first half. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
    Sterling Williams looks to pass the ball during the first half. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    Feb. 15, 2007

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    IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Northwestern had its chances to notch another last-minute comeback against Iowa, but misses from both the foul line and the field cost the Wildcats (12-13, 2-10), who dropped a 66-58 decision Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Adam Haluska scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Hawkeyes.

    Northwestern had won three of the last four against Iowa and each time Northwestern came from behind, including last year when the Wildcats overcame an eight-point deficit to win in the final 30 seconds.

    Despite a forgettable night from the floor, Haluska's touch from the free-throw line, including four straight in the final 1:07, was enough to help the Hawkeyes (15-11, 7-5 Big Ten) withstand yet another Wildcat comeback.

    But this time Iowa hit key free throws down the stretch, stiffened on defense and never let Northwestern get any closer than three points.

    Haluska was just 5-of-19 from the floor, but nearly perfect from the charity stripe, where he hit 16-of-18.

    Iowa shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 79.2 percent from the free-throw line en route to its fourth win in five games.

    Tim Doyle led Northwestern with 17 points and Kevin Coble added his second-straight double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Wildcats, who were coming off a home victory over Penn State, dominated inside, flustering the Hawkeyes with their ability to convert wide open backdoor passes in the paint.

    But Northwestern struggled from the perimeter, and hit just 15.8 percent from behind the 3-point stripe.

    Haluska, the Big Ten's leading scorer, hit six-straight in the early minutes of the second half to give Iowa some breathing room. Minutes later he hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, seemingly putting Iowa in control 49-38 with 11:19 remaining.

    Northwestern, however, fought back behind Coble and 3-pointer from Vince Scott to cut the lead to 57-54 with 3:45 remaining. But Northwestern scored on just two of its final nine possessions and missed fired on three front ends of a one-and-one in the final 4:18. Iowa put the game away by sinking 7-of-9 from the line in final 1:07.

    The Wildcats got what they wanted offensively in the first 20 minutes. After falling behind early 9-4, Northwestern went on an 11-2 run, highlighted by layups from Doyle, Jeff Ryan, Vince Scott and capped off with a three-pointer by Jason Okrzesik to give the Wildcats a 15-11 lead with 8:37 remaining. Iowa's Justin Johnson then hit a three to trim the lead to one before Ryan came right back on NU's next possession and converted the old-fashioned three-point play after getting fouled on a floater in the lane.

    With under a minute left in the half, Haluska sank three-straight foul shots after getting fouled on a three attempt to put Iowa up 29-26. But NU would answer once again and tied it up when Jeremy Nash found Craig Moore in the corner whose three hit nothing but net just before the halftime buzzer to even the score at 29-29.

    Ryan finished with seven points while Scott finished with six. All nine Wildcats who saw action connected on at least one field goal.

    Northwestern's stingy defense kept them in the game when it offense sputtered at times, forcing 16 Iowa miscues in the game and recording six first half steals.

    Iowa's Tyler Smith, playing with an injured pinkie finger, scored 13 points but committed six of Iowa's 16 turnovers.

    Northwestern is back in action this Sunday at Illinois. Game time is 2 p.m. CT.

    The Associated Press contributed to this story