The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa men’s basketball keeps NCAA Tournament hopes alive with road win at Northwestern

Patrick McCaffery’s clutch three sealed the victory in a back-and-forth affair, marking the Hawkeyes’ third Quad 1 triumph of the season.
Carly Schrum
Iowa forward Patrick McCaffery shoots a three pointer during a men’s basketball game between Minnesota and Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 90-85. McCaffery had 21 points during the game.

The Iowa men’s basketball team kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive with an 87-80 road victory over the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday. It marks the Hawkeyes’ third Quad 1 win of the season and puts them right in the mix for a spot in the Big Dance. 

Second-year guard Josh Dix had his best game of the year, scoring 24 points and three assists. Since entering the starting lineup back in December, Dix has slowly molded into one of the best guards in the Big Ten. Over his past three contests, Dix has piled up at least 20 points in each. 

Senior guard Tony Perkins also turned heads with his play-making ability, racking up 14 assists to complement his 10 points.

As expected with two squads averaging at least 74 points per game, this matchup turned into a track meet from the opening tip. Iowa knocked down its first three triples of the contest, with Payton Sandfort nailing two of them. Owen Freeman finished off the frame with a tough finish in transition to give the Hawks an early 13-10 advantage.

Tony Perkins continued the scoring surge for Iowa with six consecutive points, but Northwestern’s Boo Buie tickled the twine from deep on two straight possessions to give the Wildcats a 26-24 lead as the Iowa offense went cold. After the Northwestern edge ballooned to seven, five points from Dix and another three from Sandfort gave the Hawkeyes a one-point lead with over four minutes to play in the first half. 

Both sides traded baskets from that point on, and Sandfort’s last-second three clanked off the rim as the buzzer sounded, and the Wildcats led, 37-36, at the break. 

Iowa began the second half just like it did in the first with two triples from Dix and tough makes from Ben Krikke. The Hawkeyes also ramped up the defensive effort, forcing three Wildcat turnovers. Later, a Perkins fadeaway jumper gave the Black and Gold its largest edge of the night at 11 points, and the Wildcats called a timeout. 

But Northwestern wouldn’t go away and went on a 7-0 run to cut the Iowa lead down to four with under nine minutes to go. Back-to-back layups from Perkins and Dix stopped the bleeding, but the Wildcats continued to stay close with a couple of wide-open shots from behind the arc. 

Iowa fought back over the next few minutes, and three straight transition buckets extended the lead back up to eight with four minutes left in the contest. A two-minute scoring drought plagued the Wildcats, and the Hawkeyes kept their lead. But, Buie continued to keep Northwestern in the game with a pair of threes, but Sandfort responded with a critical three-point play to give Iowa a six-point edge.

With 41 seconds to go, Perkins was caught in a pickle near the baseline but somehow found Patrick McCaffery wide open on the wing for a clutch trey. It marked McCaffery’s second field goal of the night but by far the biggest shot of the game. 

The sell-out crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena was left speechless, and Iowa escaped with the victory.

Up next 

Iowa returns home on March 10 to close out the regular season against Big Ten rival Illinois, who sits at 22-7 on the year. The Fighting Illini have a home matchup with Purdue on Tuesday ahead of their battle with the Hawkeyes. 

Guard Terrence Shannon Jr. leads the team in scoring with 21.9 points per game.

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Carly Schrum
Carly Schrum, Photojournalist
Carly is a freshman majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and potentially majoring in sustainability. She works at the Daily Iowan as a photojournalist.