By Derek Sawvell
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa ended a three-game losing streak Tuesday night as the Hawkeyes rallied to defeat Northwestern 53-51 and move to 12-15 on the season and 5-9 in Big Ten Play. The loss leaves Northwestern 7-16, 0-13.
“It’s rough,” Northwestern head coach Bill Carmody said. “It’s tough for our guys, but you hope you get over the hump somehow.”
Leading the way for the Hawkeyes was Cyrus Tate, scoring a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
“They stayed with their stuff and got the ball to Tate,” Carmody said. “They kept getting the ball to him and we couldn’t stop him.”
“To find Cyrus inside was big for us,” Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter said. “It took us awhile to figure it out. He did a good job of sealing and finding angles.”
Northwestern was led by Craig Moore, who also added a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Coble added 12 points while Jason Okrzesik scored 11.
It was a slow first half for both teams as Northwestern used the first eight minutes of the game to out-distance the Hawkeyes 5-1. Iowa’s first field goal came with 11:15 left in the first half on a reverse layup by Kelly. Kelly would later add two free throws to cut the Northwestern lead to 7-5. Iowa would get point contributions from Kelly, Tate and Freeman throughout the first half.
After a bucket from Tate tied the game at 7-7, Freeman hit a three-pointer to give Iowa its first lead 10-7. Northwestern’s Okrzesik would answer with a three-pointer to tie the game yet again 10-10.
Freeman would later add two free throws and Kelly added another three-pointer, but Okrzesik hit another three-point basket at the end of the half to give the Wildcats a 17-15 edge.
Iowa shot only 21.1 percent (4-19) during the first 20 minutes, while Northwestern shot 26.1 percent (6-23). The shooting would get better for both teams in the second half with Iowa shooting 54.2 percent (13-24) and Northwestern shooting 48.1 percent (13-27).
Northwestern would begin the second half on a 14-4 run behind four three-point baskets to lead 31-19. Moore added two three-pointers during the run while Okrzesik and Coble each added one.
“It didn’t look good for us,” Lickliter said. “We turned it over and took some bad shots. That puts pressure on the good shots.”
Tate quickly answered for the Hawkeyes, converting a three-point play, a dunk and a layup, while later tipping in a missed free-throw by Kelly to help cut the Wildcat lead to 36-29.
After another three-pointer by Moore, Iowa went on a 11-0 run behind three straight three-pointers from Freeman and a lay-in after a steal by Dan Bohall to regain the lead for the Hawkeyes 40-39.
“I knew they were dangerous,” Lickliter said. “They had a great run at us.”
Bohall would later add a three-point basket, Kelly would add four free-throws and Tate would add six more points to give Iowa a 53-48 lead with two minutes left to play. Moore hit a three-pointer with 1:37 left in the game to cut the lead to two, 53-51, before fouling Tate, who missed two straight free-throws. That gave Northwestern a chance to shoot for a tie or the victory with nine seconds left, but Moore missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer, allowing Iowa to escape with a 53-51 victory.
Iowa’s next game is on the road at Michigan State on Feb. 23 with a1:05 p.m. tip at East Lansing, Mich.