Men's basketball falls apart, blows 15-point lead at Iowa

    We've said this multiple times this season, but this is a new rock bottom for 2018-19 Northwestern men’s basketball.

    In a game largely controlled by Northwestern (12-11, 3-9 B1G) in Iowa City on Sunday night, the Wildcats fell to No. 20 Iowa (19-5, 8-5 B1G), 80-79, on a game-winning buzzer-beating three from Jordan Bohannon. The Wildcats led by 12 points with under 3 minutes remaining, and by 5 points with 33 seconds left.

    The collapse was bookended by clutch shooting from Bohannon (15 pts), who had previously been quiet all game. The star junior guard nailed a three to get the crowd going at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but Ryan Taylor grabbed an offensive rebound and put in a layup to keep the Wildcats in control. However, the Hawkeyes had shifted into a new gear. Freshman Joe Wieskamp (21 pts, 4 rebounds) nailed a trey of his own, then Bahonnon made another, then Wieskamp hit a fast break field goal to cut the Hawkeye deficit to three.

    Dererk Pardon (13 pts, 7 rebounds) got to the line and nailed both of his free throws, and A.J. Turner (15 pts, 75% shooting) had a chance to ice the game after drawing a foul of his own on the next Northwestern possession. However, Turner missed the front end of the 1-and-1. Isaiah Moss (16 points) immediately made him pay with a basket to pull Iowa within one with 16 seconds left. Vic Law drew a foul but missed his second free throw. Forgoing the chance to tie the game, Bohannon pulled up from downtown and drained his game-winning shot to send Carver-Hawkeye into mayhem.

    It was an absolutely thrilling finish, in the worst way possible. Bohannon and Weiskamp deserve credit for their clutch shooting, but there's no doubt that Northwestern blew a chance at a high-quality win by missing free throws and crumbling under pressure. Overall, the Wildcats shot 52 percent and far surpassed Chris Collins’ stated 65-point goal, but still failed to secure their first win in Iowa City since 2012.

    Vic Law’s resurged after a string of poor games since returning from injury in the first half. Law (24 points, 10 rebounds) knocked down a three on his first shot of the night and never looked back  he scored his first nine points off three-pointers and wound up with 19 in the half to go along with six rebounds. Turner was the Robin to Law’s Batman, adding 13 points of his own. However, though stingy, the Wildcat defense was unable to suppress the Hawkeyes’ balanced scoring attack, and Northwestern led the at the half by just six.

    Northwestern slowly built their lead throughout the second half, but racked up fouls in the process. Iowa, the best team in the Big Ten at getting to the free throw line, was in the bonus with well over 12 minutes remaining, and Pardon  the rock of this Northwestern team on both ends of the floor  was in danger of fouling out. Pete Nance's continued absence (mono) was apparent, as Pardon could not stay on the bench for an extended period of time. Defensively, Northwestern forced a lot of turnovers (18 total) en route to a 15-point lead with 4:30 to go.

    With the loss  their fourth in a row  Northwestern falls to 12th in the Big Ten, behind Rutgers (sigh). Any hope of making even the NIT are long gone, morale is at a season low and some fans are arguing that it was a big mistake to give Collins a long-term contract. The state of Northwestern basketball is decidedly not strong.

    Northwestern looks to pick up a much needed win on Wednesday at Welsh-Ryan arena vs. the aforementioned Rutgers (11-12, 4-9 B1G).

    Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Jordan Bohannon's last name. The story was updated Feb. 11 at 8:04 p.m. NBN regrets this error.


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