Women’s Basketball: Hawkeyes’ second-half streak downs Cats

Danny Daly

The Wildcats have been prone to streakiness this season-and once they lose their momentum, they’ve had a hard time getting it back. Iowa capitalized on that in the second half Sunday, riding a prolonged run to a 78-69 home victory over Northwestern.

‘We need to start recognizing when the runs are happening and talk to each other, try to really rattle them with our defense,’ junior center Amy Jaeschke said.

Jaeschke’s best offensive performance of the season was wasted in the loss. She made 11-of-15 shots from the field and 8-of-10 free throws, tallying a season-high 30 points. But no one else for NU (12-8, 3-6 Big Ten) joined her in double figures.

The 6-foot-5 Jaeschke faced off against Morgan Johnson, who matched Jaeschke’s height but not her experience. The freshman fouled out and played only 24 minutes. When Johnson wasn’t on the floor, Jaeschke had a significant size advantage.

‘I was just posting deep on my defender,’ Jaeschke said. ‘I had a girl who was a freshman, and her backup was a girl who was six feet tall. (The coaches) talked to me before the game about posting well and taking it to the people who were going to be guarding me.’

Both teams were clicking offensively in the early going, shooting more than 60 percent until the midway through the first half. The Hawkeyes (10-10, 3-6) took their largest lead with 10:03 left, going ahead 26-21 after Johnson’s fastbreak layup.

But whereas Iowa only scored 10 points the rest of the half, NU sustained its hot shooting. The Cats shot 60 percent before intermission and made their first four tries from 3-point range to take a 38-36 edge into the locker room.

That lead grew at the beginning of the second half. NU kept trying to give Jaeschke open looks down low, and it was working. After five-and-a-half minutes, the Cats held a nine-point advantage.

‘We wanted to get her the ball in reversal, because she’s always one-on-one,’ said junior point guard Beth Marshall, who finished second on the team with nine points. ‘And when Amy’s one-on-one, no one can stop her’hellip;We were working inside-out by letting Amy score. Whenever she scores, it opens up the outside, and we knocked down a couple shots.’

Just when it seemed like NU was in control, Iowa started its 19-2 run. The Cats stopped hitting shots, and it appeared to affect their play defensively.

‘Our defense definitely has to step up-just because our shots aren’t falling doesn’t mean we can’t play defense, too,’ Marshall said. ‘We always say, ‘Don’t let your offense be your defense.’ So if our offense is a little off for a couple minutes, we can’t let that carry over to the defensive end.’

But they did, and it cost them. By the time the stretch was over, the Hawkeyes led 64-56 and never looked back, even extending their edge to double digits. NU cut the deficit to six with about three minutes remaining, but it never got closer than that.

Iowa’s free throw shooting fueled its comeback, helping it overcome NU’s advantage inside. The Hawkeyes scored 14 of their 19 points during the second-half run at the free throw line, sinking 31-of-37 foul shots for the game. Meanwhile, the Cats attempted 14 free throws-less than 40 percent of the Hawkeyes’ total.

‘A lot of times we were out of position defensively, so when we had to help we were reaching or fouling,’ Marshall said.

NU saw two trends continue in Iowa City, Iowa-one good and one bad. Junior guard Meshia Reed played well again off the bench, contributing eight points after scoring 12 in a loss at Indiana earlier in the week.

But the Cats also struggled with turnovers again, committing 19 against the Hawkeyes and 18 against the Hoosiers.

‘Unforced turnovers, mental breakdowns, mistakes-I don’t think Iowa’s defense had much to do with it,’ coach Joe McKeown said. ‘It was more self-inflicted wounds.’

With a home date looming against Michigan State, who advanced to the Sweet 16 last year, NU can’t afford to keep shooting itself in the foot. [email protected]