Men’s Basketball: Northwestern can’t compete with Iowa on the glass


Meghan White/Daily Senior Staffer

Senior guard Reggie Hearn goes up for a shot. Hearn scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, notching a double-double in his final game in purple.

Northwestern knew it would have issues on the glass after Jared Swopshire went down.

The graduate student had the highest rebounding average for an NU player since Evan Eschmeyer in 1999. However, the Wildcats’ woes on the board came back to haunt them in the Big Ten Tournament.

Iowa outrebounded NU 48-31, including grabbing 19 offensive rebounds in the 73-59 win. The worst performance from the Cats came in the opening minutes of the game when Hawkeyes forward Melsahn Basabe grabbed seven boards and helped stake Iowa to an 11-0 lead.

“We defended pretty decently,” coach Bill Carmody said. “Our rebounding is part of defense and they just got way too many offensive rebounds.”

The early offensive rebounds piled up for the Hawkeyes and helped them establish their dominance in the game. Iowa scooped up four offensive rebounds before NU scored its first bucket, but only one translated into points for the Hawkeyes. Many of the early rebounds came nearly uncontested, which frustrated coach Bill Carmody during the game.

The second half was a completely different story. The Cats got more hands onto loose balls and rebounds, but Iowa still picked up 11 offensive rebounds in the second half. Most of those boards came late in the game, when the Cats were trying to claw back into the contest.

The two presences on the inside for NU were senior guard Reggie Hearn and freshman center Alex Olah. The pair combined for more than half of NU’s rebounds and was very physical on the glass. Hearn led the team in rebounds for the second game in a row, finishing with 10 rebounds for his third career double-double in the loss. He said he feels like he’s the second-biggest man on the floor at times, and as a result he has improved his rebounding.

“I realize it’s something I have to do,” Hearn said. “I just have to rebound if we want to win. Our rebounding margin was -17 so we didn’t do nearly well enough in that department.”

Hearn had eight rebounds in the second half alone and grabbed the only two offensive rebounds the Cats had the entire stanza. He was able to convert both of them into points despite drawing a crowd of defenders after soaring for the boards.

Olah has turned a corner in recent weeks, and it showed Thursday night. Olah’s seven rebounds were the third-most he has had this season and his most since Swopshire was hurt.

Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey chalked up the rebounding advantage to the smaller lineup NU put out on the floor. Carmody said he went small because freshman forward Kale Abrahamson struggled with the physical nature of the game early on.

“He was putting a team on the floor that was going to be hard to guard,” McCaffrey said. “He had four guards out there a good portion of the second half and he was driving a little bit more. … We were substantially bigger at times.”