LINCOLN, Neb. — The game was as pretty as the Devaney Center was full. But the result was everything Iowa asked for Wednesday night at Nebraska.
After sluggish, inconsistent play for the first 25 minutes before a half-empty arena, Iowa (16-14, 8-9 Big Ten) regained its poise and its shooting accuracy in the final 15 minutes. The Hawkeyes scored on seven consecutive offensive possessions midway through the second half on a double-digit run in a 62-53 win at Nebraska.
The win ended Iowa’s six-game road losing skid. It also gave Iowa its 16th win, the most since earning 17 victories in 2006-07. It also avenged a 79-73 loss to Nebraska on Jan. 26.
Nebraska’s 53 points were the fewest allowed by Iowa this season.
“I think it was very important because just to know that we can still be alive for a possible NCAA berth,” Iowa guard Bryce Cartwright said.
Iowa led 31-30 and was floundering offensively. Matt Gatens was 1-of-6 from the field, but drained a 3-pointer to give Iowa a 34-30 lead. On Iowa’s next offensive opportunity, Devyn Marble scored on a drive to the basket. Then Gatens hit another 3-pointer, followed by two 3-pointers from Marble to put Iowa up 45-35.
Iowa scored on its next two trips up the court on a dunk from Gatens and jumper from guard Bryce Cartwright to complete a 15-3 run and extend Iowa’s lead to 14 points.
Cartwright still is hampered by a gimpy right ankle, but played 34 minutes, scored 11 points, dished five assists, grabbed four rebounds but had five turnovers. Cartwright suffered the injury on Feb. 11 in practice.
“Really in this game, this was as explosive as he’s been, since he turned it,” Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery said.
Gatens led Iowa with 16 points, the 13th consecutive game he’s scored in double digits. Marble scored 11. Brandon Ubel led Nebraska (12-16, 4-13 Big Ten) with 17 points.
Iowa had its chances to bury Nebraska in the first half. The Hawkeyes led 23-15 with 5:31 left in the half. Iowa scored on four consecutive possessions and was fueled offensively by Cartwright, who started an 8-2 run with a drive and a jumper. Cartwright then fed Aaron White for a basket, and Zach McCabe followed with another field goal.
Then Iowa got sloppy and non-productive. Two possessions ended in missed shots. Iowa’s final five possessions ended with turnovers. Andrew Brommer was called for a moving screen. Cartwright and Marble each had the ball stolen or taken away on Iow a’s last five possessions. Iowa led 23-19 at halftime.
“We defending really well in this game,” McCaffery said. “The last time that we played them they were just taking us off the dribble. They were running it down our throats. They really dictated what they wanted to do. That’s why they won.”
McCaffery helped Cartwright get back on track after the first half, the senior guard said.
“Just a result of coach getting into people on the bench,” said Cartwright, who admitted he was one of them that got a lashing from McCaffery. “Me and Marble, we need that. Usually we respond better to that.”
Iowa ends its Big Ten campaign on Saturday against Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. A victory would guarantee Iowa of its first winning season since 2007.
McCabe 2-2 0-0 4, White 3-7 2-3 8, Oglesby 3-5 0-0 8, Marble 3-10 3-5 11, Gatens 4-11 5-7 16, Basabe 2-3 0-0 4, Brommer 0-1 0-0 0, Cartwright 5-10 0-1 11, May 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 10-16 62.
Ubel 7-7 3-4 17, McCray 2-9 2-2 6, Richardson 0-3 2-2 2, Spencer 3-14 0-1 8, Walker 5-10 4-4 15, Niemann 0-0 0-0 0, Talley 1-6 0-0 3, Fox 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 19-52 11-13 53.
Halftime_Iowa 23-19. 3-Point Goals_Iowa 8-20 (Gatens 3-8, Oglesby 2-4, Marble 2-5, Cartwright 1-1, White 0-2), Nebraska 4-24 (Spencer 2-9, Walker 1-3, Talley 1-4, Richardson 0-3, McCray 0-5). Fouled Out_Spencer. Rebounds_Iowa 34 (Gatens, McCabe, White 5), Nebraska 30 (Ubel 7). Assists_Iowa 15 (Cartwright 5), Nebraska 15 (Richardson 6). Total Fouls_Iowa 15, Nebraska 17. A_10,772.