Men’s Basketball: Northwestern’s inefficiency woes continue against Iowa in third straight conference loss


Daily file photo by Brian Lee

JerShon Cobb was Northwestern’s leading scorer and best player Thursday against Iowa, but the Wildcats suffered their fourth consecutive loss — and third straight by more than 20 points.

Rohan Nadkarni, Reporter

Iowa coach Fran McCaffery was suspended for Thursday’s game against Northwestern. Wildcats coach Chris Collins was on the sidelines.

Still, it was Collins’ team that lacked the execution to win the game, or even keep it close.

The Hawkeyes (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) pounded the Cats (7-9, 0-3) in a 93-67 drubbing Thursday in Iowa City, Iowa, NU’s fourth straight loss and third straight in conference play.

The defeat marked another display of bricklaying from the Cats’ offense, which managed to shoot only 39 percent from the field.

“Iowa did a great job of wearing us down as the game went on,” a hoarse Collins said on WGN Radio after the game. “Our margin of error is very slim. When we do have an opportunity where we get our open shots, we have to take advantage of it. And I didn’t think we did that to the fullest when we had a chance to get back into the game.”

In addition to poor shooting, the offense also never achieved any sort of rhythm. Players looked out of sync, and there was no flow. In the first half, NU failed to record a single assist.

“We just have to do a better job of driving and kicking,” junior guard JerShon Cobb said. “We were making good drives, but sometimes we had open kicks and we didn’t make them.”

The shooting troubles extended to the 3-point line, where NU converted a paltry five times in 24 tries, and the free throw line, where the Cats hit 15 of 23 attempts.

NU’s only starter to shoot over 50 percent was sophomore center Alex Olah, but his effort was nullified most of the night due to constant foul trouble. Olah finished with 7 points and five fouls.

Junior Dave Sobolewski, NU’s starting point guard, entered the game shooting 26.4 percent from the field and missed both of his shots, with his two assists overshadowed by four turnovers.

Senior forward Drew Crawford and Cobb were bright spots in an otherwise listless Cats’ offense.

Crawford dropped in 12 points on 5 of 12 shooting. Cobb led the team with 18 points.

“He played very well,” Collins said of Cobb. “I was really pleased with his aggressiveness. Certainly going forward, we need him to be that guy.”

Cobb’s aggressiveness and subsequent frustration ultimately summed up NU’s night offensively. Early in the second half, Cobb missed an open corner three, got the ball back, missed a layup and then committed a foul immediately after, making it clear it wasn’t his team’s night.

“I played alright,” Cobb said. “I had a couple mistakes on the defensive end.”

On the defensive end, the Cats could not match Iowa’s athleticism or size.

Hawkeyes forward Aaron White dominated the game. White shot 4 of 7 from the field, and also stepped to the line and made all 10 of his free throws. White’s five assists were more than NU had as a team, which finished with four.

White’s effort was aided by forward Melsahn Basabe and center Adam Woodbury. The trio combined to give Iowa’s starting frontcourt 44 points on 13 of 19 shooting from the field, and 18 of 22 shooting from the line.

As a team, Iowa finished just under 57 percent shooting from the field, over 57 percent from the three-point line, and racked up assists on 22 of its 29 field goals.

“In the second half we kind of laid down,” Cobb said. “Everybody has to get in the gym. It’s the only way. We have to get past this loss and focus on Illinois. That starts tomorrow.”

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