Hit By Eye Of The Storm (Men’s Basketball)

Ben Larrison

By Ben LarrisonThe Daily Northwestern

For a while, it looked like Northwestern might do it again.

Down three with less than three minutes remaining, the Wildcats were in position to upset Iowa for the fourth-straight year. But the Hawkeyes took advantage of slow starts and inconsistent play by the Cats to pick up a 66-58 win Thursday night in Iowa City, Iowa. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but had been delayed by snow.

“How many different ways can you say you can’t get over the hump and you can’t close it out?” NU coach Bill Carmody said. “It’s discouraging.”

After getting two baskets early, Iowa (15-11, 7-5 Big Ten) went on a 9-0 run to take a five point lead. Five of those points were scored by senior Adam Haluska, the Big Ten’s leading scorer entering the contest. The Cats (12-13, 2-10) again struggled with their shooting early, hitting just two of their first nine field goal attempts.

The Cats would bounce back with an 11-2 streak of their own, holding a 15-11 advantage at 7:30 to go in the first half. Though all of NU’s first eight points came on layups, the team missed four more lay-ins in the first 13 minutes of the game.

Craig Moore struggled through much of the first half, including a late foul on Haluska that resulted in three made free throws. But the NU sophomore made up for the gaff by hitting a 3-pointer with four seconds remaining to tie the game up at 29 entering the break.

While both teams were successful in forcing turnovers, it was the Cats who were able to capitalize. NU had nine points off turnovers compared to just six for the Hawkeyes, and also held a 6-0 advantage on fastbreaks.

“I thought we were in control even though it was tied at half … it seemed like all our stuff was working,” Carmody said. “But in the second half, they came out in the zone and we just (struggled to adjust).”

As has become a recurring theme this season, the Cats came out cold in the second half. They would not score until the 17:27 to go mark and had just one field goal nearly six minutes in. Iowa took advantage of the NU offensive drought by jumping out to a 46-36 lead, its largest of the night to that point, before Carmody took a timeout with 12:17 remaining.

Led by two quick baskets from Kevin Coble, the Cats would comeback to within one possession at 53-50 with 6:29 left. NU was still down just three points with less than three minutes to go, but it could never quite close the gap before resorting to fouling. Despite shooting just 5-of-19, Haluska led the Hawkeyes with 29 points. Tim Doyle had a team-high 17 points for the Cats, and Coble posted his second-consecutive double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.

NU will try again for its third conference win Sunday when they take on in-state rival Illinois in Champaign, Ill. NU struggled immensely when it faced the Illini at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Feb. 27, falling 58-43 while being outrebounded 40-16.

Illinois will be playing its first game since a car accident involving two of its players. Freshman Brian Carlwell remains hospitalized after sophomore teammate Jamar Smith hit a tree Monday night while driving in the snowy weather. Carlwell, who suffered a severe concussion, was upgraded from critical to fair condition Thursday and is expected to be released from the hospital by the weekend. Smith had a mild concussion and was not hospitalized.

Reach Ben Larrison at [email protected]tern.edu.