Rapid Recap: Northwestern 80, Iowa 60


Katie Chen/The Daily Northwestern

Sophomore Brooks Barnhizer drives inside the paint. Barnhizer was a critical component to Sunday’s offensive clinic against Iowa, recording 12 points and corralling 7 rebounds.

Aayushya Agarwal, Reporter

There is no team hotter in college basketball than Northwestern (20-7, 11-5 Big Ten). Eyeing its fifth consecutive victory, the Wildcats capped a historic week with a valiant defensive effort on Sunday, beating Iowa (17-10, 9-7 Big Ten) 80-60.  

NU started off hot offensively. A layup by senior forward Robbie Beran assisted by junior guard Ty Berry opened the scoring, followed by a monster dunk by graduate student forward Tydus Vervoeven that put the Cats up by nine midway through the first half. NU saw its first half lead as high as fourteen courtesy of made free throws by senior guard Boo Buie. 

On the defensive end, NU continued putting the Hawkeyes on their heels, forcing both turnovers and contesting shots. Blocks by both redshirt senior guard Chase Audige and junior center Matthew Nicholson were instrumental to the Cats allowing the Hawkeyes to put up a mere 26 points at halftime. By the intermission, the Cats held a nine point advantage. 

Over the course of the second half, it was all NU. Consecutive running layups by Audige ensured the Cats stayed hot offensively. A corner three by freshman forward Nick Martinelli helped NU to maintain its advantage midway through the first half. Down the stretch, the Cats went on a 12-1 run, capped by double technical fouls on Iowa coach Fran McCafrey. With five minutes to play, the Cats held their highest advantage of the game at 24 courtesy of made free throws by Berry. 

A 43 point second half by the Cats propelled the team towards a convincing twenty point victory and its first victory over the Hawkeyes since 2017. Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s matchup.


  1. Northwestern locks up Iowa from deep 

A key part of the Hawkeyes success this year has been their ability to light it up from deep. NU was victim of this when the teams faced off in January, allowing 10 threes on 21 attempts. Even though the Cats had a strong offensive effort in last month’s contest, the team’s inability to guard the perimeter saw it allowing three Hawkeyes players to score fifteen or more points. 

However, Sunday was a different story. NU made it difficult for the Hawkeyes to put up clean attempts from deep, which was a major reason for the team’s victory. In their win over Indiana on Wednesday, the Cats did not allow a made three pointer in the first half. On Sunday, excellent perimeter defense ensured NU kept the Hawkeyes scoreless from deep through the first ten minutes of the game. Down the stretch in the first half, the Cats contested several Hawkeyes three point attempts, even forcing consecutive misses on one defensive possession when the team couldn’t corral a rebound. 

NU’s ability to restrict top Big Ten offenses from scoring beyond the arc has been a key reason for its success this season. The Cats limited Purdue to 5-for-22 and Indiana to 4-for-11 from deep. On Sunday, NU limited the Hawkeyes to shoot 3-for-24 on three point attempts. If the Cats can continue doing just this over the final weeks of the season, there is no stopping the team come March. 

  1. The Wildcats find sources of offense from the defensive end 

As it has done all season, NU continued to force turnovers. While offensive struggles have existed at times, it is always these defensive turnovers that lead to fastbreak points on the other end. The same held true on Sunday. 

The Cats took advantage of the Hawkeyes scrambling on offense by creating turnover opportunities at times when shots were not falling. A forced Hawkeyes offensive charge attempt and a steal by Verhoeven were part of five Cats forced turnovers midway through the first half. 

Down the stretch in the first half, the team further capitalized on the Hawkeyes lack of ball control, generating fastbreak offensive opportunities from turnovers. A steal and coast-to-coast dunk by sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer and a steal and running layup by Berry were part of 10 NU first half points off turnovers. By the intermission, the Cats also forced ten turnovers. 

With the offense being heavily reliant on Buie and Audige all season, it is imperative that the Cats continue generating offense off of turnovers. On Sunday, seven NU players either recorded a steal or block by the intermission. This collective team effort will ensure players gain offensive momentum from the team’s continued ability to have active hands in the passing lanes.

  1. Berry and Barnhizer provide Buie with offensive support 

While everyone knows of the offensive role Buie has played for the Cats this season, Berry and Barnhizer both had double digit scoring performances that were especially vital on Sunday, especially when Audige faced foul trouble early in the first half. 

Berry was involved early on in the contest, drilling a corner three to give NU its first points from beyond the arc. A second-consecutive made three by the junior forward gave the Cats a nine point advantage five minutes into the contest. Down the stretch of the second half, Berry’s corner three sealed the game for the Cats, putting the team up by 21 and helped him finish with 16 points in Sunday’s victory. 

Meanwhile, Barnhizer found his offensive momentum in the latter half of the evening. A pullup three as the shot clock expired and a three at the top of the key were part of 12 points by the sophomore guard. Barnhizer was also particularly valuable on the boards, corralling a team-high 7 rebounds. 

Even though NU received much-needed offensive contributions from Berry and Barnhizer, Buie steadied the ship on the offensive end as he has done all season. The senior guard displayed his full offensive arsenal on Sunday. A pullup three, spinning floater, and crossover pullup jumper were part of a game-high 14 first half points from Buie. The New York native also set up his teammates with open opportunities, dishing out a pass that led to a Verhoeven dunk and a layup to junior center Matthew Nicholson that put the Cats up by 15 midway through the second half. Buie finished Sunday’s contest with a game-high 23 points and 8 assists. 

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Twitter: @aayushyagarwal7

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