The Iowa Hawkeyes improved to 10-3 on Wednesday night as they took home a 92-71 victory over the Western Illinois Leathernecks to close out the non-conference portion of the schedule.
The Hawkeyes got on Western early, jumping out to a 10-2 lead to start the game, and never really looked back. WIU cut the lead to 2 with just over 15 minutes to go in the first half, but Iowa led for more than 39 of the game’s 40 minutes and the Leathernecks would never get closer than a four point deficit the rest of the way.
Keegan Murray led the way for Iowa with 29 points and 10 rebounds on 13 of 20 shooting from the floor. Murray was joined in double figures by three fellow Hawkeyes. Jordan Bohannon and Payton Sandfort each poured in 13, but is slightly different fashion. Bohannon went cold from deep, shooting just 1-6 from beyond the arc on the night, but proved reliable at the charity stripe shooting 6-6 from the line. Sandfort, on the other hand, picked up the slack from deep. He finished the night a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc and 5-7 from the field overall. He added 5 rebounds in 17 minutes of game action.
Patrick McCaffery was the other Hawkeye in double figures. He finishes with 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting from the field and 1-2 from deep. For Western, as has been the case for most of the season, four players made it to double figures but Seth was lacking. The Leathernecks were led by Wapelli native Trenton Massner, who had 20 points despite shooting 0-4 from deep. Colton Sandage, Will Carius and Luka Barisic added 15, 12 and 12 points despite shooting a combined 5-26 from beyond the arc.
The real story on Wednesday, however, was the team effort on the glass. Western Illinois came into the matchup out-rebounding opponents by an average of five boards per game thanks to a pair of 6’10” bigs. Despite the absence of Josh Ogundele due to an ankle injury and only 2 minutes from freshman big man Riley Mulvey, the Hawkeyes out-rebounded Western 41-31. It was a team effort as Keegan Murray was the only Hawkeye to hit double digit rebounds, while seven different players corralled at least three. That’s a trend Iowa needs to continue as they move into Big Ten play the rest of the season.
Beyond the rebounding, Iowa simply played a pretty solid, not great game. The Hawkeyes finished with 12 turnovers while only turning Western Illinois over nine times. But the Hawkeyes shot 54% from the field and 40% from three while holding the Leathernecks to 41.7% from the field and just 16.7% from deep. Notably, Iowa also held Western to only six free throw attempts for the game.
Top Dunks From Tonight pic.twitter.com/cJGeEffpiq— Iowa Men’s Basketball (@IowaHoops) December 30, 2021
While perhaps expected in a game where Iowa was favored by 19 points coming in, this was a good win for the Hawkeyes. As noted in the pre-game discussions, Western Illinois took down Nebraska to open the season and at 10-3 coming, they’d already racked up some decent victories over several MAC programs. They came into the night at #124 in the NCAA’s NET rankings making Wednesday’s win a solid Q3 victory. After some struggles from Longwood, that makes this Iowa’s only Q3 victory of the season.
The Hawkeyes will get a shot at another Q3 win as they play host to Maryland, which currently sits at 118th in the NET, next Monday. The battle with the Terrapins will be the first of Iowa’s 18 remaining Big Ten matchups. That one is slated for an 8pm CT tip. The game will be televised on BTN.