Illinois Pulls Away in 2nd Half to Down Hawkeyes

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Feb. 26, 2011

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —Junior Bryce Cartwright has made a habit of buzzer-beating heroics this season, and with the clock hitting 0.0 in the first half Saturday night against Illinois, the guard splashed in a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The clutch shot cut Iowa’s halftime deficit to 36-31, but the Hawkeyes could not sustain any momentum in the second half, as they fell on the road to the Fighting Illini, 81-68.

The loss drops Iowa to 10-18 overall and 3-13 in the Big Ten, while Illinois improves to 18-11 with an even 8-8 record in conference.

Melsahn Basabe led the Hawkeyes with 17 points and seven rebounds. Matt Gatens added 14 points and Cartwright had eight points to go along with nine assists. Senior Jarryd Cole continued his inspired play, scoring 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

The Hawkeyes were held scoreless for the first five minutes of the contest and faced an early 10 point deficit. A layup by Roy Devyn Marble got Iowa on the board and sparked a 13-3 run over the next two and a half minutes to tie the game at 13 with 12:27 to go in the first half.

Cole completed a three-point play to tie the game, but Iowa’s offense came to a halt once again. The Fighting Illini then went on a huge run to gain a double-digit advantage at 29-15 with five minutes left until halftime, but the Hawkeyes refused to go away and climbed back into the game.

Zach McCabe got the offense rolling with a 3-pointer and on the following possession Cartwright found Basabe streaking down lane, feeding him for a powerful two-handed dunk. The freshman quickly followed the dunk with a smooth jumper and a pair of free throws to cut Illinois’ lead to seven. Cole then hit back-to-back jump shots to bring the score to 33-28 late in the first half.

In a game dominated by big runs, the Hawkeyes found themselves on the wrong end of another one in the early portion of the second half. Iowa got the closest it could all game two minutes into the second half courtesy of a Cartwright jumper, making the 38-35. The Fighting Illini, however, came out scoring from all over the court, racing out to a 60-43 lead with 11:16 remaining.

Iowa was never able to get back within single-digits, and Illinois earned the much-needed win in hopes of getting off the `Bubble’ and securing a bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Hawkeyes return to the court Wednesday night in East Lansing, Mich., against Michigan State. Tipoff is slated for 5:35 p.m.

Illinois 81, Iowa 68 1st 2nd Final
Iowa (10-18, 3-13) 31 37 68
Illinois (18-11, 8-8) 36 45 81
Statistical Leaders
Points: Melsahn Basabe (UI) 17 | Mike Tisdale (ILL) 25
Rebounds: Melsahn Basabe (UI) 7 | Mike Davis (ILL) 9
Assists: Bryce Cartwright (UI) 9 | Demetri McCamey (ILL) 7