Dec. 27, 2008
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by Derek Sawvell
IOWA CITY, Iowa — On a Saturday night in which points were at a premium, the University of Iowa men’s basketball team defeated Western Illinois 58-43 inside Carver Hawkeye Arena. With the win, the Hawkeyes move to 10-3 on the season while the Leathernecks fall to 4-8.
The win marked the end of the non-conference schedule for the Hawkeyes as they will travel to Ohio State to open conference play Dec. 31.
“We finished the non-conference and got to a point where we think we’re ready to start conference play,” said Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter.
On a night in which Anthony Tucker didn’t play due to a “coach’s decision,” Matt Gatens, Jermain Davis and Jake Kelly all scored in double figures. Gatens had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds while Davis and Kelly added 13 points each.
Leading Western Illinois was David DuBois with 18 points and nine rebounds. The Leathernecks slowed the game from the start using all the shot clock and making the Hawkeyes work on defense.
“That was a well-coached team,” Lickliter said. “They make you play in the half court.”
The Hawkeyes shot 46.2 percent (18-39) on the night while holding Western Illinois to 34 percent (16-47). After falling behind 23-22 at the half, Iowa clamped down defensively in the second half, holding Western Illinois to only seven field goals over the final 20 minutes. The Hawkeyes lost the rebounding battle, 30-28.
“Defensively on the perimeter we played well,” Lickliter said. “We struggled to keep them off the glass. We lack the humility to block out and that could hurt us in the future if we think we don’t need to block out.”
In a low-scoring first half, both teams used the shot clock and made the other play lengthy defense while working for shots. Gatens and Kelly led the Hawkeyes, scoring 13 of the team’s 22 first-half points.
Gatens hit Iowa’s first jumper and Kelly had a break-away dunk after a Jeff Peterson steal leading to an 8-7 lead for the Hawkeyes with 14:38 left in the half.
The Leathernecks quickly responded with a 6-0 run to gain their largest lead of the game, 13-8, sparked by DuBois. DuBois finished the half with eight points.
Iowa used an eight-minute span to regain the lead behind a 12-3 run anchored by Gatens and Devan Bawinkel each hitting three-pointers to help the Hawkeyes to a 20-16 lead.
Western Illinois finished the half aggressively as David Nurse converted a three-point play after breaking to the basket for a layup after a steal and Ceola Clark converted two free-throws after being fouled inside of the half’s final five seconds. The Leathernecks went to the locker room with a 23-22 lead.
Kelly and Gatens started quickly again in the second half as Kelly hit a three-pointer and a layup followed by a jumper from Gatens to help Iowa jump out to a 31-28 lead.
The Hawkeye defense stiffened and Davis poured in five points hitting back-to-back shots to help Iowa gain its largest lead of the night, 42-35, with 10:19 to go in the game.
Davis had a big second half, scoring 11 of his 13 points, including a dribble-drive dunk to give Iowa a 10-point lead 53-43 with just two minutes left to play. Cyrus Tate added five points down the stretch for the Hawkeyes, leading to a 58-43 victory.
“We have some time now to work on our execution,” Lickliter said.