IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Adam Haluska scored 29 points and Iowa held off a late surge to beat Northwestern 66-58 Thursday night.
Despite a forgettable night from the floor, Haluska’s touch from the free-throw line, including four straight in the final 1:07, was enough to help the Hawkeyes (15-11, 7-5 Big Ten) withstand yet another Wildcat comeback and maintain its hold on fourth place in the Big Ten.
Coming into the game, Northwestern (12-13, 2-10) had won three of the last four against Iowa, and each time Northwestern came from behind, including last year when the Wildcats overcame an eight-point deficit to win in the final 30 seconds.
But this time, Iowa hit key free throws down the stretch, stiffened on defense and never let Northwestern get any closer than three points.
Haluska was 5-of-19 from the floor, but nearly perfect from the charity stripe, where he hit 16-of-18.
Tyler Smith, playing with an injured pinkie finger, scored 13 points but committed six of Iowa’s 16 turnovers.
Iowa shot 41.7 percent from the floor and 79.2 percent from the free-throw line en route to its fourth win in five games.
Tim Doyle led Northwestern with 17 points and Kevin Coble had 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The Wildcats, losers in five of their last six games, dominated inside, flustering the Hawkeyes with their ability to convert wide open backdoor passes in the paint.
But Northwestern struggled from the perimeter, and hit a measly 15.8 percent from behind the 3-point stripe.
The second half opened with the score tied at 29, but Iowa surged early behind Haluska’s free-throw shooting.
Haluska, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, hit six straight in the early minutes of the second half to give Iowa some breathing room. Minutes later he hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, seemingly putting Iowa in control 49-38 with 11:19 remaining.
But Northwestern hung around, and Coble’s reverse layup cut Iowa’s lead to three with 3:13 to go.
Smith followed with a jumper in the lane, and minutes later Haluska sank two free throws to put Iowa in front by seven.