IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa men's basketball team used the power of the three-point shot to stop a four-game losing streak Saturday by defeating Northwestern, 56-51. With the win, Iowa moves to 13-11 on the year, 3-8 in Big Ten play. Northwestern fell to 13-8, 4-6.
"There are good lessons to be learned from this group," said Iowa head coach Todd Lickliter. "It's been a tough stretch and these guys played with a lot of spirit. Hopefully we can win and learn. Losing and learning isn't as fun."
After missing seven games with a high-ankle sprain, UI senior Cyrus Tate started for the Hawkeyes. Tate was welcomed back to Carver-Hawkeye Arena by an overwhelming roar from the crowd during the announcement of the starting lineups. Tate played 13 minutes, scored 2 points and grabbed five rebounds.
"I thought it would be fun to introduce him," said Lickliter. "Cyrus giving us some minutes was a lift."
Iowa attempted 40 shots on the night and 30 were from behind the arc. The Hawkeyes shot 12-30 from three-point land and only found two field goals inside the arc throughout the entire game.
"We only shot 30 of them (three-pointers)," said Lickliter. "You just don't have that many opportunities. Give them credit. I think that's who they are."
"I feel really good (with regard to Peterson's play)," said Lickliter. "He had to make a decision every trip that wasn't easy. I thought he gave us poise."
Leading the way for the Wildcats was Craig Moore with 20 points. Each of Moore's field goal makes and attempts (6-18) came from behind the arc. He scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half.
"He got better looks in the first half," said Northwestern head coach BiIl Carmody. "He can't make shots all the time."
"You have to know where he is," said Lickliter. "He's terrific."
During first-half action, both teams lived and died by the three-point shot. Iowa made seven field goals in the first half, all of which were three-pointers, while 4-of-6 field goals made by Northwestern were three-point baskets. Iowa only attempted three two-point field goals in the half, while Northwestern attempted seven.
Devan Bawinkel got his first start of the season and hit Iowa's first three-pointer of the game, while Gatens made three shots from behind the arc to give Iowa an 18-7 lead with 12:05 left in the first half.
"There were a few guys hitting shots and we didn't guard them," said Carmody.
After leading by 11, the Hawkeyes failed to score for the next seven minutes, while the Wildcats began to chip into the lead.
Kevin Coble made both of Northwestern's two-point field goals while Moore led all scorers in the first half with 14 points. Moore drained four three-point shots inside the final nine minutes of the half to pull the Wildcats within three at the half, 24-21.
Iowa won the battle of the boards 18-11 and shot 35 percent (7-20) for the half while Northwestern shot 28.6 percent (6-21) but did manage to score 12 points off 11 Iowa turnovers.
John Shurna hit two quick buckets for the Wildcats to open the second half with a 25-24 lead. Jermain Davis made Iowa's first two-point basket, scoring a layup while getting fouled on the play. Davis converted the three-point play and Peterson added two more three-pointers to give the Hawkeyes the lead back 38-33 with 7:37 left in the game.
Moore remained hot from behind the arc for the Wildcats, hitting two more three-pointers during the next four minutes of action to tie the game, 43-43.
After a three-point play from Northwestern's Luka Mirkovic gave the Wildcats a 46-45 lead, Bawinkel quickly answered for the Hawkeyes with his third three-pointer to regain the Iowa lead, 48-46, with just over a minute to play.
"In the first half they got all the loose balls but we were able to find some in the second half," said Carmody.
Northwestern began to foul inside the final minute and Peterson and Gatens each hit four free throws to put the game away for the Hawkeyes, 56-51.
"Different guys got to the line and knocked them down," said Carmody. "I thought we had some opportunities but when you're away from home you have to take advantage of them."
"We've talked about the effort you have to play with," said Lickliter. "These guys have been playing hard and haven't been rewarded. They gave a great effort."
Iowa's next game is on the road at Wisconsin on Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 7:35 p.m.