IOWA CITY, Ia. – It was a great look.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery said.
Josh Oglesby’s 3-pointer in transition, released with 5 seconds hanging on the Carver-Hawkeye Arena clock and the Hawkeyes down two points, hit the front rim. It left Iowa a foot shy of a .500 Big Ten Conference record and kept Northwestern’s hopes of the school’s first NCAA bid alive.
“I thought it was in,” Oglesby said Saturday after the 70-66 loss, sealed by Alex Marcotullio’s two free throws with two ticks remaining before an announced sellout crowd of 15,400.
Northwestern’s John Shurna, who had missed the front end of a one-and-one with 10.9 seconds to go, was off the hook.
“Fortunately, it (Oglesby’s shot) didn’t go in,” Shurna said.
One more foot, and Iowa would have snapped a string of four consecutive losing seasons, and sent seniors Matt Gatens, Bryce Cartwright, Andrew Brommer and Devon Archie out in style.
“You just want that memory,” said Gatens, who scored 17 points as the Hawkeyes finished the regular season 8-10 in the Big Ten and 16-15 overall. “You just want that memory.”
Iowa got the No. 8 seed in the Big Ten Tournament instead, and will play Illinois in a first-round game at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Indianapolis.
The Hawkeyes shot better than 50 percent from the field in both halves and lost. But Northwestern, 8-10 and 18-12, converted 18 Iowa turnovers into 23 points. And the Wildcats, the Big Ten’s poorest rebounding team, turned 14 offensive rebounds into an 11-4 edge in second-chance points.
“Once a century we get offensive rebounds,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said.
Drew Crawford, who led the Wildcats with 17 points, had six offensive rebounds, one more than the entire Iowa team.
Iowa used a 15-0 run to take a 20-7 lead, and still had a 13-point edge halfway through the first 40 minutes. But the Wildcats amped up their 1-3-1 zone , and the Hawkeyes didn’t handle it well.
Northwestern ended the half on a 27-5 run to take a 42-35 lead. The Hawkeyes had 13 first-half turnovers. Iowa had 13 turnovers or less in nine previous Big Ten games. Iowa turned it over on five of its last seven possessions of the half.
Northwestern led by as many as 11 points the second half, but Iowa’s comeback was fueled by solid man-to-man defense. Shurna, the Big Ten’s leading scorer this season and Northwestern’s career scoring leader, was covered tightly by Gatens and finished with just nine points. Averaging 20.1 for the season, Saturday was the first time Shurna has not reached double figures this Big Ten season.
“It was epic, is what it was,” McCaffery said of Gatens’ defense on Shurna.
A deep three by Gatens cut the Iowa deficit to 66-64 with 1:58 to go. Shurna missed a one-and-one with 1:18 remaining, but Cartwright got caught in the air and threw the ball away with 52.4 seconds left.
After Dave Sobolewski used rim on both ends of a successful one-and-one opportunity with 16.9 seconds remaining, Cartwright darted in for a quick basket. Shurna was fouled and missed his one-and-one, and Iowa raced down the floor trailing 68-66.
Gatens came off a double screen on the left side. Cartwright thought about taking it to the basket, but saw Oglesby come free on the right wing in transition.
“Josh is a good shooter,” Cartwright said. “He hits that and we’re up one, and talking about something else.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball