Northwestern rallies late to secure 87-80 win over Iowa

By Andrew Neville

Northwestern rallied back from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to claim a big conference win over Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Thursday night.

The Wildcats used a strong second-half effort from preseason Big Ten Player of the Year Lindsey Pulliam to secure the victory. The senior scored 22 of her 27 points in the second half, including a huge three-pointer with 1:33 left to essentially put the game away.

“In the fourth quarter, we played with a lot of purpose and a lot of fight,” Head Coach Joe McKeown said after the game. “Lindsey Pulliam showed why she’s one of the best players in college basketball.”

Northwestern also got key contributions by all three first-years, led by Anna Morris. The 6’3” forward from New Jersey, who Coach McKeown described as “fearless,”  made multiple big shots on her way  to scoring eight points in a season-high 20 minutes. Fellow first-year Jasmine McWilliams played a season high 12 minutes and scored four points, and Paige Mott, making her second start in place of the injured Courntey Shaw, put up four points and grabbed four rebounds.

For most of the second half, this game seemed like it might have a similar story to Sunday’s heartbreaker against Indiana. After controlling the game for much of the first half, the Wildcats allowed Iowa to go on a 13-0 run early in the second half to build up a nine-point lead with 3:51 to go in the third quarter. The ‘Cats didn’t panic, however, and began to chip away, ultimately taking the lead back for good with 2:51 remaining in the contest.

The Wildcats definitely have things to work on following the win. Joe McKeown’s patented blizzard defense, known for protecting the interior, allowed Iowa to score 50 points in the paint. The ‘Cats couldn’t stop junior center Monika Czinano, who made a Big Ten Record 15-consecutive field goals to open the night on her way to a season-high 34 points on 17-of-19 shooting. 

Offensively, the Wildcats shot only 50% from the free throw line, and some late misses from Sydney Wood and Veronica Burton allowed Iowa to stay in the game longer than they probably should have. If you subtract Pulliam’s 12-of-16 night from the line, then the ‘Cats shot a disturbingly low 5-of-18 at the charity stripe. This is a liability that needs to be addressed as the team moves deeper into Big Ten play because on another day a team could make them pay.

Now, the ‘Cats focus shifts to a big game next Monday against No. 14 Ohio State as Northwestern looks for its first top-25 victory of the season.