Hawkeyes' worst loss of season brings out frustration, second-guessing

Chad Leistikow
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery, left, and guard Josh Oglesby (2) react after Oglesby was charged with a foul during overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Northwestern, Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern won 66-61. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Considering this one ended with Iowa coach Fran McCaffery going after official Terry Oglesby, you could say the Hawkeyes reached a boiling point Sunday afternoon.

The Hawkeyes suffered what was easily their worst loss of the season, 66-61 in overtime to hapless Northwestern, before a crowd of 7,714 that was about half Iowa supporters at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

When losing to the last-place team in the Big Ten Conference, there's a lot that can be questioned.

The execution? Check.

Northwestern disrupted Iowa with a 2-3 zone in the first half, holding the Hawkeyes to 11 points in the first 12-plus minutes. That led to a 21-11 Northwestern lead out of the gate.

"We were kind of surprised they went zone," Iowa's Josh Oglesby said.

Iowa settled for a perimeter-based offense that didn't get going until the last 10 minutes of regulation. The Hawkeyes had 12 points in the paint — they had a combined 80 points last week in wins over Michigan and Maryland.

"We didn't establish anything at the rim offensively," McCaffery said. "It was all jump shots. The more you're shooting jump shots, the more the zone can get out and guard those guys."

The urgency? Check.

As in, where was it from the Hawkeyes (15-10, 6-6) three days after lamenting their readiness in a home loss to Minnesota?

"We were prepared as we could be," Iowa's Jarrod Uthoff said. "We just didn't come out with the energy we needed to."

The defense? Check. That was a biggie for McCaffery.

Iowa gave up nine assists on 10 Northwestern baskets in the first half — six of which were 3-pointers.

"Which tells you there's no ball pressure at all," McCaffery said.

The star senior? Yep, a valid criticism on this day.

Iowa's Aaron White scored six points on 1-for-12 shooting. And that was after he made his first shot, a dunk. The Hawkeyes' leading scorer was 0-for-9 in the second half and overtime.

"Good defense. I was 1-for-12," White said. "I couldn't make a shot."

Asked if White was frustrated, McCaffrey replied, "What do you think?"

The coaching? Social media lit up as McCaffery kept Gabe Olaseni on the bench in favor of Adam Woodbury in crunch time and overtime.

Woodbury had a rough game offensively, going 0-for-5 from the floor and 3-for-8 from the free-throw line in 28 minutes. He scored three points and pulled down two rebounds.

Olaseni scored five points with three boards in 15 minutes.

"I thought Woodbury was really playing well, particularly at the defensive end. And that's kind of where I leaned in that case," McCaffery said. "Against the zone, he was doing everything right. It's easy to look back now and say, 'OK we didn't finish some plays he missed some free throws, maybe you should've put someone else in.' "

The officiating? Well ...

McCaffery can't comment on it without incurring a fine, but he probably wasn't asking Terry Oglesby out to dinner as the officials left the floor.

The Wildcats went nearly 17 minutes between fouls — after having six at the 15:58 mark of the second half.

"There was a lot of contact. ... I know I got fouled a couple times," Uthoff said. "I know Whitey and Woody got fouled, but I can't tell you for sure until I watch the film."

That it even got to overtime was a Uthoff miracle. The junior from Cedar Rapids canned two 3-pointers in the final 12 seconds of regulation to tie the game 54-54 and force the extra five minutes.

But with the fresh start and new life, Iowa reverted to its first-half form offensively. Its first basket didn't come until 29 seconds remained — by Uthoff to extend his career high to 25 points.

And Northwestern (11-14, 2-10) made just enough clutch plays down the stretch to make this one hurt for the Hawkeyes.