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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern blown out 77-51 by Iowa

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Coming off of a big win against Maryland, the Wildcats got blitzed.

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EVANSTON — Northwestern women’s basketball (12-2, 2-1 B1G) failed to continue its Big Ten hot streak following its win over No. 12 Maryland, falling 77-51 to the unranked Iowa Hawkeyes (11-3, 2-1).

The Wildcats struggled on both ends of the ball, but their weak offensive performance ultimately hurt them the most in the end. Lindsey Pulliam was the only Wildcat to find any momentum on offense and led all scorers with 25 points. Veronica Burton and Abi Scheid added 10 and 7 points, respectively, most of which came once the game was already out of reach. The team as a whole shot only 36 percent from the field and 20 percent from three.

The ultimate issue on offense, however, was Northwestern’s inability to break down Iowa’s zone, scoring only 18 points in the paint compared to Iowa’s 34.

Northwestern’s blizzard defense, which excelled in the win over Maryland did not match up well against Iowa’s four-out offense, allowing too many open looks on both the perimeter and in the post, which led to four Hawkeyes scoring in double figures. The defense allowed the most points it has all season but held Iowa below its points per game average of 81.

Additionally, the Wildcats were out-rebounded 38-to-25 by a smaller team with leading rebounder Abbie Wolf only finding 2 points and 2 rebounds in what was a foul-plagued game for the senior.

Iowa came out hot, shooting 4-for-4 from three in the first quarter. An early 10-0 run gave the Hawkeyes a 14-4 advantage five minutes in, but Northwestern battled back with consecutive threes from Pulliam and Scheid to cut the lead to four. However, Iowa quickly responded with a 7-0 run to end the quarter and held the 24-13 lead after the first ten minutes — the most points NU has allowed in the first quarter all season.

In the second quarter, Northwestern improved upon many of its defensive struggles, holding the Hawkeyes to just nine points, but continued to struggle offensively, putting up only eight of its own. The two teams traded buckets for most of the quarter with Pulliam as the only Wildcat to show any dominance with 11 first half points. Jordan Hamilton and Wolf’s rough performances only added to Northwestern’s issues, as neither player found a bucket in the half. Iowa led 33-21 at the break.

The two teams continued to battle early in the third. Northwestern attempted to chip away at Iowa’s solid lead and a contested and-one pull up jumper from Pulliam cut the Iowa advantage to eight. However, the Wildcats’ momentum would not last for long as Iowa started to pull away late in the quarter, increasing its lead to as much as 17. Whenever Pulliam scored, Iowa responded. She could only do so much by herself, and her teammates could not find any momentum until the game was out of reach.

The Iowa lead continued to grow in the fourth and reached as much as 26. Northwestern ran a small lineup and played without a center for the majority of the second half, and though Pulliam continued to pad her stats, and Burton added a few buckets of her own, the effort was not nearly enough to match Iowa’s offensive dominance.

Jess Sancataldo entered the game late for the first time all season after missing the nonconference with an injury.

Center Monika Czinano dominated her underneath matchups all game for the Hawkeyes, leading them with 21 points. Star guard Kathleen Doyle added 15 with seven assists, and forward Amanda Ollinger put up a double-double with 11 points and 12 boards.

Northwestern will take on No. 24 Minnesota on the road on Thursday.