EVANSTON, IL — It was wild from start to finish, but the heartbreak-prone ‘Cats once again fell in the most painful fashion in a game that included just about everything.
Northwestern led by as much as 14 in the third quarter, but the ‘Cats couldn’t stop Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano down the stretch, falling to the Hawkeyes, 72-67.
Veronica Burton did it all for the ‘Cats once again, scoring 19 points and adding seven assists, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in 45 minutes. Laya Hartman added 14 points, while first-year Melannie Daley scored 13 off the bench.
For Iowa, Clark and Czinano combined for 52 points and 27 rebounds.
Northwestern entered the matchup on a three-game losing streak following a 28-point defeat at the hands of Maryland, while Iowa came into the game after winning six straight, its last loss coming to the Wildcats on January 6th.
Lauryn Satterwhite opened the scoring for the ‘Cats with a three-pointer from the right wing. After a few misses by each side, Clark found McKenna Warnock in transition to get Iowa on the board. Jillian Brown reextended the ‘Cats’ lead to three with a reverse layup under the basket, but Clark quickly answered with a free throw-line jumper.
A scoring drought from both teams occurred midway through the first, in which Northwestern shot just 1-of-7 from the field and Iowa just 1-of-10 over the same minutes-long span. As both teams were ice cold, the Hawkeyes climbed back into it to tie the score at nine-all following a Gabbie Marshall three.
With the clock dwindling, Daley checked in to score her first points of the night on an elbow jumper, which Clark responded to with a layup. Burton wouldn’t let the score stay even for long though, as she pulled up from midrange to take the lead at the end of the first, 13-11.
Daley carried her momentum into the second period, knocking down two early jump shots from the baseline, her favorite spot on the floor. The ‘Cats started to take over on the defensive end as well, forcing a travelling violation, followed by Burton picking off a pass that she took all the way to the hoop. Iowa was forced to call a timeout just two minutes into the second quarter, trailing 19-11.
As the Wildcats pulled away via an 8-0 run, Cailtin Clark willed the Hawkeyes back into the game with seven quick points. The team appeared to hit its stride by taking advantage of Caileigh Walsh, who logged three early fouls and had to get subbed out. The ‘Cats were able to combat Iowa’s run with an and-one layup by Satterwhite, then a layup by Mercy Ademusayo to end the half.
At the break, Northwestern led Iowa 31-28. Neither team had shot particularly well, with the Wildcats shooting just 40% to Iowa’s 38%, but the Hawkeyes ended the period making five of their last seven shots with the momentum swinging. Clark led all scorers with 11 points, while Hartman paced the ‘Cats with seven. Burton, Satterwhite and Daley were closely behind with six apiece.
The ‘Cats opened the second half on a 13-4 run behind two threes from Burton and a transition shot by Hartman from beyond the arc as well. Northwestern made four of its first five shots in the run, putting the Wildcats up 44-32 with 6:49 left in the third.
With all cylinders clicking on the Wildcat offense, Clark ended an 8-0 run with a transition layup. The National Player of the Year candidate single-handedly willed her team back into the game, earning two free throws before hitting a deep three to pull Iowa within seven. A layup from Czinano, coupled with a five and a half-minute scoring drought from Northwestern, made sure the game was still tight entering the final period, as Northwestern led 46-41. The ‘Cats finished the quarter with a poor shooting stretch of just 1-of-10 from the field, while Iowa went on a 9-0 run in that same timeframe.
Iowa started the final period just as hot as it ended the previous one, notching seven quick points to the Wildcats’ two to even the score at 48. After shots were exchanged between Burton and Czinano, Clark converted on an and-one layup to give Iowa its first lead since the opening quarter. Iowa drilled another three, but Jillian Brown hit a left-wing shot to keep Northwestern within one.
Marshall was crucial for Iowa down the stretch, finding a hole in the defense for a layup and adding a free throw to put the Hawkeyes up four with under two to go. Two free throws from Brown made it a single-score game once again, and Burton found Daley on the left wing (surprise, I know) in transition to tie the game at 61 apiece with just 31.5 seconds remaining.
After a miss from Clark, Brown grabbed the rebound, then spotted Burton flying down the court with no one within ten feet of her. Burton finished the clutch layup on a reverse right hander, putting the Wildcats back up 63-61 with just 1.8 seconds remaining. However, a lengthy and puzzling review led to the basket being waved off and a declaration that the game was going to overtime, despite the fact that there were four seconds remaining on the clock after Brown’s rebound.
This was the explanation given by the official team account:
b4 anyone gets too mad, the shot wouldn't have gone in had the clock expired on time.— Northwestern Women’s Basketball (@nuwbball) January 29, 2022
tough sequence for sure but @laya33h was still electric.
under 2 to go in OT.
Burton opened the extra period with a free throw, but Czinano responded with a layup to reclaim the lead. Several great defensive plays from Burton and Courtney Shaw later, Burton scooped in a layup to put the ‘Cats up by one, but Clark wouldn’t have it, as the superb sophomore nailed a deep three to give Iowa a two-point lead with 51 seconds to go. The Hawkeyes hit their free throws from there on out to all but seal the game and hand the Wildcats their fourth straight loss.
Northwestern will head to West Lafayette Thursday as the Wildcats take on the Purdue Boilermakers.