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Inside The Hawkeyes

Rebraca, Sandfort Lead Iowa Basketball

By John Bohnenkamp,


Hawkeye Due Each Nets 20 Points in Win Against Northwestern

They were 20-point bookends on the box score, a pair of forwards who know each other well.

The run that sealed Iowa’s 86-70 win over Northwestern on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena belonged to Payton Sandfort and Filip Rebraca.

It was only fitting.

“Payton and I,” Rebraca said, “know what we’re good at.”

For Sandfort, it’s shooting 3-pointers. For Rebraca, it’s battling inside for points and rebounds.

Which is what they did in the crucial 22-9 run late in the second half that finally brushed away the Wildcats, who had been trading shots and stops with the Hawkeyes all night.

“It was just guys making plays,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said.

Rebraca had eight points in the run, while Sandfort had 12, including a weird six-point play with 3:36 to play.

“From that moment on,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said, “that’s when the game got away.”

“Coming down the stretch, when Payton’s cooking like that, you’ve got to give him the ball,” McCaffery said. “(Rebraca) in the second half, he was pretty flawless.”

Rebraca has been a constant for the Hawkeyes this season — he added 10 rebounds to go with his 20 points for his ninth double-double. Sandfort has had his slumps, but his 20 points in this game came on 6-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-7 in 3-pointers.

Iowa (14-8 overall, 6-5 Big Ten) led 62-59 with 7:38 to play when Sandfort and Rebraca took over.

Sandfort started the run with a 3-pointer, then Rebraca scored eight consecutive points, including a dunk off a Sandfort assist.

“He was working tonight, so I had to feed him,” Sandfort said.

Iowa was up 73-65 when Sandfort, coming off a Rebraca screen, launched a 3-pointer as he was fouled by Northwestern’s Matthew Nicholson.

Sandfort was flat on his back, still giving his celebratory 3-point sign as the foul was called, but he would get more points on the play. Collins was called for a technical foul, so Sandfort made the two free throws for that before making one to complete his original play.

“I should have put up four,” Sandfort said, joking about his signal. “Maybe six.”

Sandfort’s three with 2 ½ minutes to play gave the Hawkeyes an 84-68 lead.

Northwestern (15-6, 6-4) had no answers in those closing minutes.

“I thought we were right there,” Collins said.

It had been a constant pursuit for both teams. Northwestern’s defensive length and the ability to clog Iowa’s passing and driving lanes was a problem for the Hawkeyes, and Iowa’s speed at getting up the court bothered the Wildcats.

“Every time they were making runs, we were hanging in there,” Collins said.

Iowa’s defense finally slowed the Wildcats in the second half. Northwestern shot 51.7 percent in the first half, but only 41.4 percent in the second half.

“The first half, we weren't guarding really well,” Rebraca said. “We let them have some easy layups, easy shots. Second half, we really locked in. We didn’t let them get anything easy. They were only hitting really hard shots — fadeaways, shots like that.”

Sandfort’s ability to hit big shots showed in the final seconds of the first half, when he popped in a 3-pointer with three seconds left to tie the game at 39 going into halftime.

“I think it kept me in a rhythm,” Sandfort said.

Iowa had five players in double figures in scoring. Kris Murray had 16 points. Tony Perkins had 12 and Connor McCaffery had 11.

In a pivotal three-game home stretch for the Hawkeyes, they have wins over Rutgers and Northwestern, teams ahead of them in the Big Ten standings. Illinois, one game ahead of the Hawkeyes, comes into Carver-Hawkeye on Saturday.

“We’re still hungry,” Rebraca said.

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