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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern dismantled by Iowa 112-76 in season-ending defeat

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For the final time, sigh.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament- Iowa vs Northwestern Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Following Northwestern’s comeback victory over Nebraska, the ‘Cats didn’t have much gas left in the tank.

In fact, they probably ran out of gas entirely, as they were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish by fifth-seeded Iowa, falling 112-76.

There weren’t too many positives for Northwestern, though Boo Buie, Pete Nance, Robbie Beran and Ryan Young all finished with 10+ points on efficient shooting nights.

For Iowa, it was the Keegan Murray show. He finished with an unbelievable 26 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes of play. He shot 11-for-16 from the floor. Super senior Jordan Bohannon added 17 points of his own while going 5-for-8 from beyond the arc.

Iowa won the tip and quickly got the scoring going with a putback layup by Filip Rebraca. On their very next possession, the Hawkeyes went up 5-0 after Patrick McCaffrey converted an and-one layup.

Northwestern’s first basket came by way of Boo Buie collecting his own miss and nailing a putback of his own. Other than that, there wasn’t much offensive success for the ‘Cats early, as they trailed by nine after just three minutes of action. At the first media timeout, NU was 2-for-5 from the floor, but had turned the ball over three times.

Things didn’t get much better for the Wildcats after the break. Nance got a hook shot to fall, but the Hawkeyes’ offense was too much to battle back against. On top of that, the ‘Cats were getting eaten alive on the boards early, as they allowed six offensive rebounds in the first seven minutes of play. With 11:41 left to play in the first half, Northwestern was behind 28-14.

As time went on in the first half, the scoring continued back and forth. Both teams pushed the tempo and not much defense was being played by either side. Heading into the under-eight media timeout, the ‘Cats had made eight of their last 10 shot attempts, but were still losing by 14. This was largely because of Iowa’s Keegan Murray, who had an absurd 14 points and six rebounds in his first 12 minutes of action.

Following the pause, the Hawkeyes quickly went on a run as Northwestern went on a two-minute scoring drought. Iowa continued to push the ball down the floor and find open looks, going on a 6-0 run and forcing Chris Collins to burn a timeout.

Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, they largely failed to claw back into the game before halftime. Nance found himself open under the basket for an easy layup, but that was countered by a corner three from Payton Sandfort, who then converted on another three a couple of minutes later to put the Hawkeyes up 24. At halftime, Iowa had pushed its lead to 64-31. As a team, the Hawkeyes were shooting an absurd 67.6% from the field and scoring nearly 1.8 points per possession, while the Wildcats were shooting just 44%.

To begin the second half, Robbie Beran made his fourth basket of the day to get Northwestern within 32. A few plays later, threes by Julian Roper and Buie cut Iowa’s lead down into the 20s. The momentum was there for the ‘Cats for a moment, but Murray quickly sank a layup through contact to stop the run.

The threes didn’t stay away from the Hawkeyes for long, as they ripped off an 8-0 run in 52 seconds to go up 78-43. Another three from Murray and a layup from Rebraca after a timeout pushed Iowa’s lead to 40 points.

One fun part of the second half was a Brooks Barnhizer sighting with 13 minutes to play. Barnhizer did get in on the action, making a layup almost immediately after checking in. That shot was overshadowed by Bohannon, who promptly dribbled down the court and pulled up from about five feet beyond the arc to sink a three.

Other than that, the final 20 minutes of action didn’t have too much action to write home about. The Wildcats got back into the game a little bit when Iowa went on a two-minute scoring drought, but they only managed to close the gap to 31 before Sandfort ended the Hawkeyes’ struggles with a triple.

In the final eight minutes of Northwestern’s season, the Wildcats mounted somewhat of a comeback against the Hawkeyes’ reserves. Roper made a couple threes to trim Iowa’s lead down to 24 points, but it was far too little too late. Both teams’ reserves came in to finish the game as Iowa walked away with an easy victory.

With that, Northwestern’s 2021-22 basketball season comes to a close. The Wildcats finish at 15-16 overall with an 8-14 record in conference play.