Color me shocked. Pat Fitzgerald made some great adjustments at the half, and the Northwestern Wildcats pulled off a stunning knockout of the Iowa Hawkeyes in Evanston.
In men's basketball, Northwestern pulled off a sweep of the Iowa Hawkeyes to improve to 16-9 overall and 5-9 in the Big Ten. Both teams struggled badly from the free throw line; Northwestern managed just 7 makes on their 13 attempts. The 6 missed free throws almost came back to haunt the Wildcats late in the game. As poorly as Northwestern shot from the stripe, Iowa was somehow worse as the Hawkeyes made just 5 of their 12 attempts. Those 7 missed free throws badly hurt the Hawkeyes, who found themselves in a furious fight early and were unable to come from behind.
The Wildcats managed to have 4 players score in double figures. John Shurna and Drew Crawford pitched in 15 points apiece, Luka Mirkovic added 13 (his first game scoring double-digits since January), and Michael Thompson added 16 points to boost the Wildcats. Thompson came up 1 assist short of a double-double, but his 9 assists led the Wildcats. Mirkovic finished with 7 rebounds, the most by any Northwestern player. The Wildcats attempted 30 shots from outside, but hit only 12 of them.
The Hawkeyes had 5 players with double-digit scoring. Jarryd Cole led the Hawkeyes with 17 points, Melsahn Basabe had 13, Matt Gatens 12, and Bryce Cartwright 10. Zach McCabe came off the bench and pitched in 11 points for the Hawkeyes. Oddly enough, the Hawkeyes hit exactly as many 3 point attempts as they did free throws (5 of 12 in both categories). While the Hawkeyes outrebounded the Wildcats 38-32 shot 51% from the floor overall, their struggles from the line undid their efforts.
Northwestern now faces a crucial stretch. Of their remaining 4 regular season opponents, only one stands at better than .500 in conference play (Wisconsin). The others stand at .500 or worse (Penn State at 7-7, Minnesota at 6-8, Indiana at 3-10). Can the Wildcats keep the momentum from this close win going?
Next 3 Games:
Northwestern (15-10, 5-9 Big Ten): @ Indiana (February 19th), vs. Penn State (February 24th), @ #10 Wisconsin (February 27th)
Iowa (10-16, 3-11 Big Ten): vs. Michigan (February 19th), @ Illinois (February 26th), @ Michigan State (March 2nd)