Just when you think you’ve reached rock bottom, the floor crumbles out from under you.
With its disappointing season soon coming to a close, Northwestern (13-15, 6-13 B1G) had perhaps its worst night of the entire season on the road against Iowa (20-8, 11-7 B1G) on Monday. NU never led for a single second of the game and was trailing by double-digits for nearly the entire 40 minutes, ultimately falling 82-61 to the No. 24 Hawkeyes.
Only Ty Berry really had anything to remember from this performance in enemy territory, leading Northwestern with 19 points and five made triples. Meanwhile, Iowa’s stars and seniors showed out in their final home game, as Keegan Murray, Jordan Bohannon and Connor McCaffery scored 26, 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Following a loss to Penn State that sucked about any remaining joy out of this season for Northwestern, it’s only natural that the ‘Cats came in sluggish in Iowa City. Pete Nance got things started with a running hook, only for Iowa to score the next nine points over the first five minutes of play. It wasn’t for lack of opportunity, as NU had several open looks and was awarded two technical free throws (Boo Buie missed both), yet still found itself down 9-4 at the first media timeout.
It only got worse from there, as Northwestern started the game shooting 2-for-10 from the field in addition to four early turnovers. Whether it was poor shot selection or the ‘Cats just rimming out shots that usually fall, absolutely nothing was working for Chris Collins’ squad. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes weren’t shooting the lights out themselves, starting a mere 8-for-27 from the field over the first 12 minutes of play, but dominance from their superstar in Murray crossed with an overwhelming number of offensive rebounds gave the home team a substantial lead. All in all, Iowa started the game with eight offensive rebounds to zero for Northwestern and led 26-11 with just under five minutes left in the first period of play.
Berry was the only one offering any form of a spark for Northwestern, as he drove and drew four free throws while also cashing in both of the ‘Cats’ only two threes in the first half of play, scoring eight of the team’s 17 first half points. Through 20 minutes, NU’s starters had only managed to score six combined points, while four of Iowa’s five starters had each individually scored six or more points. Add it all up, and NU was facing a brutal 36-17 halftime deficit on the road.
The second half got off to a slightly better start, with Berry and Chase Audige canning back-to-back threes to finally get Northwestern’s offense off life support, but an inability to finish at the rim and keep Iowa off the boards continued to kill the ‘Cats. Bohannon and Murray tossed in back-to-back triples of their own, and Iowa led 51-29 at the first media timeout of the second period.
The rest of the game continued to present a barrage of threes from the Hawkeyes on their senior night, and while Berry did his best to keep pace, it was not nearly enough.
McCaffery in particular was red hot, as any chance NU had of shortening the gap in the second half was quickly dispelled by another three from the lefty shooter. In the end, Northwestern fell without putting up much of a fight at any point during the night’s action, losing 82-61.
Northwestern next takes the court for its final regular season game this Sunday at home against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.