Nov. 26, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa men’s basketball team’s defense led the Hawkeyes to a 70-49 victory over Northern Illinois on Wednesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa limited the Huskies to 27.9 percent shooting, forced 17 turnovers, and had 12 blocks for the game. Northern Illinois trailed 50-39 with 10:39 remaining before enduring a 6:22 scoreless drought; it scored 10 points the rest of the way.
“We were locked in defensively, but our offense is not where we want it to be,” said UI head coach Fran McCaffery. “It was critical that our defense be exactly that. Other than (NIU’s) 23 offensive rebounds, we played well defensively.”
Four Hawkeyes reached double figures with senior Aaron White and junior Anthony Clemmons leading the way with 14 points apiece. White made 6-of-11 field goals, while Clemmons tied a career high, going 3-of-6 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe.
Olaseni was playing with a heavy heart after learning his father, Benson, passed away Wednesday morning in London.
“He played great, we’re proud of him,” said McCaffery. “He didn’t hesitate to play. One of the last things his father said was he’s so proud of Gabe, and he wants him to maximize this opportunity his senior year. His dad didn’t want to do anything that would in any way impact his ability to do that.
“We were Skyping with his family, and his mom made that abundantly clear. That solidified in his head he was going to go out and play.”
The Hawkeyes shot 46.3 percent from the floor, but went 5-of-17 from 3-point range. Iowa made 15-of-19 free throws, and had a 22-13 advantage in points off turnovers.
After leading 34-20 at the break, Iowa used back-to-back lay-ups from Woodbury to push its lead to 43-26 with three minutes into the second half. Four-straight from Olaseni pushed the Hawkeye advantage to 18 (47-29) at the 14-minute mark.
Northern Illinois followed by scoring 10-of-13 points to make the score 50-39 with 10:39 to play before Iowa forced the six-plus minute drought to pull away.
With 3:17 remaining, freshman Brady Ellingson made his Hawkeye debut. Ellingson has been in-and-out of practice this season after having foot surgery this summer.
“I don’t know where this is going to end up for him,” said McCaffery. “We’ll see if he can tolerate (the pain). If not, we’ll shut him down and redshirt him. He can play in a few games to see if he can tolerate the pain. We’ll see where this thing is going.”
Iowa limited Northern Illinois to 25 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, where it took a 34-20 lead into the half. After missing seven of its first eight shots, the Hawkeyes amped up its defense, which translated to offense and a 16-0 Hawkeye run.
A Clemmons steal led to a White layup to tie the game at six to start the run. The Hawkeyes forced five turnovers during the 4 1/2 minute stretch, turning a 6-4 deficit into a 20-6 lead with 11:17 to go in the first half.
The Huskies followed with seven-straight points to make the score 20-13, but Iowa doubled up Northern Illinois over the final nine minutes to take a 14-point lead into the break.
Iowa (4-2) returns to action Saturday, hosting Longwood at 1:07 p.m. (CT). The first 1,500 fans will receive a free Josh Oglesby Bobblehead.