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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern narrowly defeats Iowa 87-80

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Despite a standout performance from Iowa, the Wildcats came away with the W.

Northwestern (9-3, 7-3 B1G) came away with another hard-fought victory after battling for 40 minutes with a talented conference opponent. The Wildcats downed Iowa (9-4, 5-4 B1G) 87-80 on the road, completing the sweep of the Hawkeyes this season.

Lindsey Pulliam and Veronica Burton posted standout performances, per usual. The senior guard scored 27 points — 22 of which came in the second half — and had four rebounds and two assists. Her backcourt partner Burton scored 20 points and added five rebounds, Sydney Wood had 14 and five steals and Jordan Hamilton had 10. Freshman Anna Morris also posted her career-high with eight points.

But it was Iowa’s Monika Czinano who stole the show with a career-high 34 points on near-perfect 17-of-19 shooting. She also added 11 rebounds and a Big Ten record by starting 15-for-15 from the field. Caitlin Clark had 23 and eight assists while Kate Martin scored 10.

Burton kickstarted the Wildcat offense with two three-pointers and three field goals in the first quarter while Pulliam and Wood joined her on the board with four points apiece. The Wildcats and Hawkeyes battled for the first few minutes, but two 6-0 runs from Northwestern in the first 10 minutes allowed NU to possess a 21-16 run after the first.

Just like the last time these two teams met, the Wildcats’ defense dominated. The experienced group held standout freshman Clark to just two first-half points, forcing the Hawkeyes to lean on Czinano and Martin to put up points. But Czinano, who started her last game against NU going 10-for-10 shooting, exceeded that performance today with a record-breaking start. She finished with 16 first-half points.

Midway through the second, Cziano led the Hawkeyes on a 5-0 run to cut the gap to just one point, but Northwestern quickly responded with its own five-point run as the half came to a close and maintained a 33-29 lead to end the half. Freshmen Morris and Jasmine McWilliams both contributed to the run with their first points of the night, and Hamilton added a bucket as well to bring her total to six.

All of a sudden, Clark looked like herself again to start off the second half. The freshman, who has averaged 26 points per game, kicked off a 13-0 run for the Hawkeyes with six quick points. Soon enough, with just over five minutes left in the third, she had 14 points on the quarter, and Northwestern trailed by nine.

The Wildcats ended the quarter with a 14-4 run, as Pulliam started to heat up in the third quarter. After scoring just five points in the first half, she accounted for 10 in the third, including two huge shots from deep. The Wildcats regained the 57-56 lead at the end of the third.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Cziano continued to be efficient, making four more baskets before her first miss of the game. The remainder of the quarter went back and forth before NU went on a 6-0 run and Wood hit the double-figure mark, continuing her streak this season. Pulliam tacked on two free throws to gain the lead with just under three minutes left in the game.

Clark and Cziano continued to drive it in for the Hawkeyes, but a few clutch shots from Pulliam allowed Northwestern to come away with a crucial victory heading into a challenging stretch ahead.

Northwestern prepares for a top-25 matchup against No. 14 Ohio State (9-1, 5-1 B1G) on Monday at home.