Men’s hoops fall short in Evanston


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Close, but no cigar.

The Iowa men’s basketball team (10-16, 3-11 Big Ten) fought Northwestern (15-10, 5-9) until the final seconds of the matchup in Evanston, Ill., but finally fell, 73-70, late Thursday evening.

The Hawkeyes had a chance to tie with three seconds left in the game, but Jarryd Cole fumbled away Zach McCabe’s full-court in-bounds pass, and the Wildcats recovered as time expired.

“Zach was a quarterback [in high school], and he threw a terrific pass,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said in a postgame radio interview. “The execution was pretty good — Jarryd needs to go back there and catch that ball, even if he’s losing his footing. It’s a difficult situation, and I understand that. He felt awful.”

Still, that final play was the only blemish in the game notes for McCabe and Cole. The former came off the bench to spark the Hawkeyes with 11 points, and Cole finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds.

McCaffery pulled his starters early in the first half after his team fell behind by 13 points. McCabe led the charge and seemed to revitalize his teammates, who were vastly improved when they re-entered the fray.

“I knew we were struggling a little bit and knew we had to get the ball inside a little more,” the freshman forward said in a postgame radio interview. “I was pretty confident coming in, and I had been hitting shots in warm-ups.”

In the end, though, the game once again boiled down to the Wildcats’ red-hot 3-point shooting. Northwestern nailed eight 3-pointers in the first half after connecting on 14 the last time the teams met, and Iowa’s coaching staff was livid.

“We didn’t have the energy we needed at the beginning of the game,” assistant coach Kirk Speraw said in a halftime radio interview. “We talked for three days about guarding the 3-point line [and] did a terrible job of that.”

The Hawkeye defense improved once McCaffery switched from a 3-2 zone to a man-to-man scheme. Northwestern managed just four 3-pointers in the second half, but the damage had been done.

“When it’s all said and done, these guys gave me a lot of effort,” McCaffery said. “I’m proud of them … I wanted them to get a win, and we were so close to getting a win. They have to know and understand that when we say to chase them off the [3-point] line, no 3s means no 3s.”

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