Jan. 25, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
EVANSTON, Ill. — It’s tough to hold down the University of Iowa men’s basketball team for a full 40 minutes, just ask Northwestern.
After scoring 30 first-half points against the Wildcats’ grind-it-out-defensive approach, the Hawkeyes responded with 46 second-half points to complete the season sweep over Northwestern with a 76-50 victory Saturday afternoon inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.
“We didn’t play our game at Michigan, we didn’t fight the way we’ve been fighting,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “I thought we were better than the way we played at Michigan and I wanted to prove it against a team that was 3-1 in its last four games.
“I wanted to lock in defensively and battle and if we did that we could overcome the physicality of their defense. In the first half, we were spectacular but were only up six, but that’s because we turned it over 10 times. In the second half, we took care of the ball, guarded them again, got our running game going, and I am thrilled with our effort.”
Senior Roy Devyn Marble and junior Gabriel Olaseni tied for the team lead with 14 points. Marble scored all 14 point of his points in the second half, making 3-of-8 field goals and all seven free throws. Olaseni’s 14 points tied a career-high and he grabbed 10 rebounds to tally his third double-double of the season.
Sophomore Mike Gesell added 11 points to go along with six assists, and a total of nine Hawkeyes scored. After finishing with eight points in Wednesday’s loss at Michigan, the Iowa reserves responded with 32 points against the Wildcats.
“We tried to bring more energy,” said Olaseni of the reserves. “We’re not trying to be tentative. We tried to refocus after the Michigan game. I am glad we gave the effort today.”
Iowa shot 51.9 percent (28-of-54) from the floor and made 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) 3-point field goals. The Hawkeyes made 15-of-20 free throws — 15-of-19 in the second half — and dominated the Wildcats on the glass, 44-20.
The Hawkeyes limited Northwestern to 36.4 percent (20-of-55) shooting, including a 4-of-20 (20 percent) effort from long range, and the Wildcats made 6-of-9 free throw attempts in the contest. Drew Crawford led all scorers with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting with 13 points coming in the first half.
After leading 30-24 at the break, Northwestern made a pair of 3-pointers on its first two possessions of the second half to trim the deficit to 34-30. Iowa responded with seven-straight points, including a 3-pointer by Gesell that pushed the Hawkeye lead to double digits (41-30).
“In the first half, we were being too methodical and weren’t playing our game,” said Olaseni. “The coaching staff settled us down at half and told us to get back to what we do — defensive stops and run-outs. That’s what we try to do every game and I am glad we started doing it a lot more in the second half.”
Up 45-38 with 12:42 remaining, but Hawkeyes broke the game open with an 11-0 run. Senior Zach McCabe opened the run with a layup before Marble scored the next seven points and Olaseni capped it off with a jumper, making the score 56-38 with 9:16 left. A Josh Oglesby 3-pointer stretched the Iowa advantage to 22 points (64-42) with five-minutes to play.
Iowa started the game hot, making 7-of-11 shots to start the game, but led just 14-10 at the under-12 media timeout. The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 19-12 on an Oglesby 3-pointer and Olaseni layup with 9:56 remaining and back-to-back layups from Adam Woodbury and Gesell put Iowa up 23-15 with 7:29 left.
The Wildcats took advantage of an Iowa lull to cut the lead in half, using a pair of Crawford field goals to make the score 23-19 at the 3:43 mark. Olaseni ended a more than five-minute Iowa scoreless drought with a one-handed, windmill dunk off an offensive rebound to give the Hawkeyes a 25-19 advantage.
Iowa led 30-24 at the break after shooting 50 percent (14-of-28) from the floor and limiting the Wildcats to a 31 percent (9-of-29) field goal percentage. Crawford kept Northwestern afloat in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 13 first-half points, and the Wildcats forced 10 Hawkeye turnovers.
The Hawkeyes (16-4, 5-2) return to action Tuesday, hosting No. 3 Michigan State on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 6 p.m. (CT).