by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
After close games against No. 9 Penn State, No. 13 Purdue, and Michigan State, NU got its signature upset win. Karly Roser hit a layup at the buzzer to give Northwestern a 67-65 win over No. 24 Iowa, the first win for the Wildcats in Iowa City since 1995.
“It’s just good for us to keep our poise, being down, to be able to come back and just be able to make some plays at the end,” coach Joe McKeown said. “It’s been a while. It’s been a while in a lot of places for Northwestern but we’re starting to get our program to where we think we’re very competitive.”
Before the exciting finish, NU (11-11, 3-6 Big Ten) had to overcome a 15-point deficit, the result of a seven-minute scoreless drought for the Wildcats just before halftime.
NU held a lead for the first ten minutes of the match, but the offense slowed, eventually coming to a halt with 8 minutes left in the half. Leading 16-15, the Cats did not score again until the 1:43 mark, at which point they then trailed, 29-18.
The 18 points at the half marked the second lowest total this season for the Cats, behind only a 15 point half against Bowling Green. Freshman Maggie Lyon led the team with five points at the break.
Iowa (16-7, 5-4) maintained a comfortable lead for the first nine minutes of the second half. However, with 11 minutes remaining, the Hawkeyes hit a small slump of their own, going scoreless for two minutes. In that time, NU scored nine points to tie the game at 49.
Iowa regained a slight lead but the Cats never trailed by more than six points after the midway point of the second half. NU stayed close with some timely offense from its key players.
“When they hit a three, Kendall Hackney hit a three. When they hit another three, Maggie Lyon hit a three and that kept us within striking distance,” McKeown said. “I thought, the last four or five minutes, was us being able to match, being able to score, because we had a hard time stopping them.”
With 1:42 remaining, a Dannielle Diamant gave the Cats their first lead since the 8:19 mark of the first half.
Roser added a layup to push the lead to three, but the Hawkeyes’ Melissa Dixon hit a free throw and a jumper to tie the game at 65 with three seconds left.
Roser then drove the length of the floor for the game-winning layup with milliseconds left on the clock.
“I had an open lane so I just took it,” Roser said. “I wasn’t even sure it was going in.”
But in it went, and, after a review by the officials, the Cats celebrated their first win over a ranked team since a victory over No. 16 Nebraska last February.
Roser got the game-winner but also played an instrumental role in the comeback, finishing with nine points and six assists in the second half.
“Karly Roser just played with a lot of poise in the second half,” McKeown said. “In the first half, she’s trying to get everyone to do what she wants them to, and when you have a young team they don’t always cooperate. In the second half, I think she had complete control of our team and I think that’s probably the biggest (difference).”
NU returns home for a matchup with Nebraska (16-6, 6-3) on Thursday.