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Northwestern-Iowa final score: Hawkeyes wear down Wildcats 73-63

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Northwestern ran out of gas down the stretch.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Northwestern Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON — College basketball can be a drag sometimes.

Iowa (13-3, 2-3 Big Ten) came to Welsh-Ryan Arena and beat Northwestern (10-6, 1-4) 73-63, primarily by attacking NU’s best players and taking advantage of 26 free throw attempts. The Hawkeyes, playing without star forward Tyler Cook, shot just 38.6 percent in the second half, but converted on 17-of-19 free throw attempts to outscore NU 39-29 in the game’s final period. Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza led the way for the Hawkeyes, combining for 35 points.

To be fair to Iowa, Northwestern didn’t play a great game, either. The Wildcats shot just 39 percent and missed 20 of 27 three-point attempts. Dererk Pardon failed to score double digit points for the first time all season and Vic Law struggled through an inefficient shooting night. Anthony Gaines led the way for Northwestern with a career-high 13 points.

Northwestern came out in a zone look to start the game, which confused the Hawkeye half-court offense for a couple possessions. The Wildcats couldn’t get anything started on offense, either, missing six of their first seven shots. Iowa was able to find a couple creases to jump out to a 9-2 lead and force a Chris Collins timeout four minutes into the game.

Anthony Gaines was the first Wildcat off the bench and the sophomore brought some immediate energy to the contest, scoring seven points early on. Still, NU struggled with Iowa’s trapping half-court defense and had to work hard for good shots.

Things opened up as the half progressed and Iowa found some success near the basket, even without standout forward Tyler Cook. The Hawkeyes got their lead up to nine before Pete Nance hit a three — NU’s first made three in eight attempts — to bring the score to 22-16 with 7:51 to go in the half.

Northwestern’s leading scorers (Vic Law, Dererk Pardon, A.J. Turner, and Ryan Taylor) struggled to find their respective shots in the first half, scoring a combined 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting. Still, Turner and Taylor hit big shots to close the half and NU and Iowa went into the break tied at 34.

The Wildcats opened the second half with a 7-1 push, forcing an early Hawkeye timeout. Iowa missed its first seven shots after the break as NU opened up a seven-point advantage.

Then, foul trouble struck. After Vic Law went to the bench with his third and fourth fouls, Joe Wieskamp and the Hawkeyes battled back to take a six-point lead. Wieskamp scored 12 straight for the Hawkeyes over just two minutes of gametime. Soon afterwards, Dererk Pardon picked up his third foul, which also put Iowa in the bonus with 12:28 to go. Moments later, Pardon was whistled for a questionable fourth foul, sending the big man to the bench.

At one point, Iowa went over three minutes without scoring a basket, but still outscored NU 9-5. Somehow, backup big man Barrett Benson picked up four fouls in only 11 minutes of game time. The Wildcats endured a three-minute stretch without a field goal of their own, with Law struggling through an off night and Dererk Pardon getting swarmed on every touch.

Iowa continued to attack Pardon in the post until he fouled out with 4:07 to go. The big man had six points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Northwestern couldn’t get any offense going, failing to score for the game’s final 2:41 and the Hawkeyes were able to extend their lead to 10 in the game’s final seconds.