IOWA 73, NORTHWESTERN 63
EVANSTON — The Iowa basketball team has had enough trouble winning Big Ten road games over the past two seasons.
With leading scorer and rebounder Tyler Cook out of the lineup Wednesday at Northwestern, it figured to be even more difficult to win one away from home.
But Joe Wieskamp and Luka Garza weren’t about to let this one slip away.
Wieskamp scored 19 points and Garza added 16 as the Hawkeyes came from behind to register an improbable 73-63 victory over Northwestern that snapped an extended string of road futility for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes (13-3, 2-3) had lost 10 of their previous Big Ten away games and had trailed by 17 or more points in each of those contests.
However, they never trailed by more than seven Wednesday. That happened early in the second half and Wieskamp almost singlehandedly erased that margin within minutes.
Bettendorf’s Nicholas Baer, who contributed nine points and 10 rebounds in the victory, actually started the comeback by getting a 3-point play off a putback and Wieskamp then scored 10 of the Hawkeyes’ next 12 points.
Northwestern star Vic Law also committed his third and fourth fouls of the game during a 14-2 binge that gave Iowa a 52-46 lead with 12 minutes, 52 seconds remaining.
The Iowa lead wavered between five and eight points over the next 11 minutes as several more Northwestern players — Dererk Pardon, Barret Benson and Ryan Taylor — all got into foul trouble.
Jordan Bohannon, who had only two free throws before the final minutes, took it into his own hands to close things out. He twice maneuvered inside to score, then finished off the Wildcats (10-6, 1-4) with two free throws with 36.5 seconds remaining.
The Hawkeyes were forced to play without Cook, who had collected 15 or more points and five or more rebounds in nine consecutive games, but who sat out the game with a sore knee.
It’s not known when the 6-foot-9 junior suffered the injury, but he had a large ice pack on his right knee following a game at Purdue last week.
Even without him, the Hawkeyes jumped to an early 9-2 lead and after Northwestern tied it, they went on a 9-0 scoring run by coaxing the Wildcats into five straight missed shots, then attacking quickly at the other end before the defense could get set.
The Wildcats put together a string of eight straight points of their own, capped by a breakaway dunk by Law following a steal.
The Hawkeyes briefly pushed the lead back to five but the Wildcats finished the half strong. Ryan Taylor scored on a baseline drive as the clocked expired to tie the score at 34-34 going to intermission.
As in road losses to Michigan State and Purdue, the Hawkeyes got off to a terrible start in the second half, however. Taylor hit a 3 to kick off a Northwestern run that gave the Wildcats a 44-37 lead.
That’s where Wieskamp decided to take over.
Law and reserve Anthony Gaines scored 13 points apiece to lead Northwestern but the Wildcats shot just 38.6 percent from the field in the game. Pardon eventually fouled out with only six points.