March 14, 2013
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CHICAGO — The first 20 minutes, it was all Iowa. The second 20 minutes, the Hawkeyes were able to survive and advance.
The University of Iowa men’s basketball team led from start to finish en route to 73-59 victory over Northwestern on Thursday night at the United Center in the first round of the 2013 Big Ten Championships. The Hawkeyes move on to the quarterfinals for a matchup against third-seeded Michigan State tomorrow night at 8 p.m. (CT).
“It (the Michigan State) game is a big game because it’s the next one,” said junior Roy Devyn Marble, who led Iowa with 19 points. “We have to go out there and not disappoint.”
After leading by 18 points in the first half and taking a 14-point lead into the break, the Hawkeyes struggled to make shots in the second half against the Wildcats’ 2-3 zone. Iowa made 28.1 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, which allowed Northwestern to make it a game.
“We knew they were going to come back,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “A Bill Carmody-coached team is going to keep coming, keep executing and making it hard for us. We had to fight to the very end.”
Midway through the second half, the Wildcats got back-to-back layups from Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio to cut the deficit to single digits at 47-39. Coming out of an Iowa timeout, freshman Mike Gesell drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to halt the momentum and put Iowa up 50-39.
Hearn followed with four straight points — two at the free throw stripe and a layup — to cut the lead to 50-43 with 8:27 remaining. Iowa again had an answer, as junior Roy Devyn Marble and senior Eric May connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to push Iowa’s lead to 56-43 with 7:02 remaining.
Northwestern managed to get it to eight points (64-56) with 1:59 remaining, but Gesell answered with a three-point play on the next possession, as the Hawkeyes went on to post a 73-59 victory.
“Those 3s to answer their call were huge for us to keep that lead because those guys are dangerous when they get down like that,” said May.
Marble’s 19 points came on 4-of-12 shooting and a 9-of-12 effort from the free throw stripe. He also pulled in six rebounds. Gesell netted 13 points in his first game back from injury since Feb. 21, and junior Melsahn Basabe had 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. It was his second straight double-double and third this season.
Iowa shot 37.1 percent (23-of-62) for the game after making 9-of-32 attempts (28.1 percent) in the second half. The Hawkeyes were also 6-of-17 (35.3 percent) from 3-point land and 21-of-32 from the charity stripe.
Northwestern finished 18-of-49 (36.7 percent) from field, 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from long range and 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) from the free throw line. The Hawkeyes controlled the action on the boards, out-rebounding the Wildcats, 48-31. Iowa also committed just seven turnovers.
Hearn paced Northwestern with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting, while grabbing 10 rebounds. Alex Olah finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Tre Demps added 11.
The Hawkeyes jumped on Northwestern early, building an 11-0 lead over the first seven minutes and it was seven and a half minutes before the Wildcats made their first field goal. After Northwestern cut the lead to six at 15-9, Iowa used an 8-0 run behind a three-point play by Adam Woodbury, a 3-pointer by Gesell and an Aaron White dunk to take a 23-9 advantage.
Iowa pushed its lead to 29-11 with 5:10 remaining in the half when May maneuvered through a fast break coast-to-coast, took off from just inside the free throw line and slammed home a dunk. The Hawkeyes proceeded to take a 36-22 lead into the break.
“I have to give credit to Whitey (Aaron White),” said May. “He opened that right up. He gets the assist on that.”
Iowa shot 46.7 percent (14-of-30) from the floor and 2-of-6 from long range in the opening half. Northwestern was 8-of-25 (32 percent) and 2-of12 (16.7 percent) from 3-point range. Iowa also was +10 on the glass, 23-13, over the first 20 minutes.
The Hawkeyes (21-11) now turn their focus to a Spartan team that handed Iowa a 62-59 loss in the season’s only meeting Jan. 10 in Iowa City.
“We have an unbelievable challenge tomorrow,” said McCaffery. “That is the gold standard for what teams want to become. We know what’s in front of us, but we welcome the opportunity.”