Iowa routs Wildcats for first Big Ten win, 70-50

EVANSTON, Ill. – After three straight losses to ranked teams, Iowa finally hit a breather Sunday afternoon at Northwestern.

The Hawkeyes had three players in double figures, including a veteran bench that collectively outscored starters, in a 70-50 Big Ten victory before 6,805 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Iowa (12-5, 1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak and beat Northwestern for the first time in six starts as Aaron White collected 17 points. Josh Oglesby and Melsahn Basabe scored 14 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery started three freshmen and didn’t hesitate to rotate in experienced players like Oglesby, Basabe and Zach McCabe.

“The beautiful thing about bringing experience off the bench and starting freshman is that you have guys off the bench who have been here before,” he said. “They’ve played in arenas and against Big Ten competition. The other thing is Zach, Melsahn and Josh can all score, so we’re bringing in experience and scoring.”

Dave Sobolewski had 14 points and Tre Demps added 10 for the Wildcats (10-7, 1-3) in front of 6,805 fans.

Iowa opened a 25-15 lead by halftime behind Roy Devyn Marble’s eight points and steadily increased its lead through the second half.

“I thought they (the Hawkeyes) defended very well coming off a tough loss to Michigan State,” Wildcat head coach Bill Carmody said. “They seemed a little shaky to me at first, just the way we were in the first 10 minutes and couldn’t get anything going.

“Then it went from a tie game and all of a sudden it’s 19-10 and they controlled the game from there.”

Northwestern missed seven straight shots through a 7 minute, 6 second span and shot 5 of 24 (20.8 percent) for the first half. Sobolewski broke the drought with a fast break layup with 2:27 left, leaving the Wildcats trailing 19-13.

Iowa also struggled from the field in the half, shooting just 10 of 28 (35.7 percent).

It was the second fewest first-half points by Northwestern this season. The Wildcats’ low was 14 on Jan. 6 at Minnesota.

The Wildcats trimmed the deficit to six early in the second half on back-to-back buckets by Hearn and Soboleski. But Iowa replied with Mike Gesell’s driving layup followed by a dunk and three-point play by White in a 21 second span for a 32-20 lead.

Iowa’s lead hit 17 points at 41-27 on Oglesby’s baseline 3-pointer with 12:34 left in regulation.

That’s the kind of performance McCaffery wants to see more often.

“I’m not surprised,” he said. “He’s been killing it in practice. We keep going to him and I keep encouraging him to shoot. The great thing today was that he missed a couple early and they kept shooting.”

By the 8:38 mark, the Hawkeye advantage hit 20 at 57-37 on Eric May’s 3-pointer. Northwestern never got closer than 19 points the rest of the way.

“I didn’t think we didn’t play hard,” Northwestern guard Alex Marcotullio said. “We just didn’t execute on offense and defense.”

After a difficult first half shooting, the Wildcats improved to 10 of 27 (37 percent) in the second half and ended 15 of 51 (29.4 percent) for the game. The Hawkeyes were 29 of 62 (46.0 percent) and outrebounded Northwestern 43-33.

“I think we got good looks, some of these were out of the context of our offense,” Marcotullio said. “Sometimes our feet weren’t set (or) we’re in a different position than we’re used to.”

Iowa was coming off a stretch of three losses against ranked teams. The Hawkeyes dropped decisions to No. 5 Indiana, at No. 2 Michigan and to No. 18 Michigan State.

Marble, Iowa’s scoring leader, was back in the starting lineup after suffering an ankle sprain last week and scored all of his eight points in the first half. He missed Thursday’s 62-59 loss to Spartans.

The Wildcats travel to Illinois on Thursday. Iowa entertains Wisconsin on Saturday.