IOWA CITY | With a slam and a swish, Devyn Marble returned to form Saturday.
The junior shook off a prolonged shooting slump on a day when Iowa needed it the most, scoring 21 points to lead the Hawkeyes to a 71-57 victory over Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Marble started his 8-of-13 performance from the field during the game’s opening minutes, announcing his intentions with a thundering dunk on a break for the first points of the game.
He then took a feed from Melsahn Basabe and hit nothing but net from 3-point range on his next opportunity with 16 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first half.
“I went back to what got me here,’’ Marble said. “I know I can drive the ball. I know I can shoot it in transition. Those are the things I’ve been doing since I got here.’’
Those were the things that were good to Marble against the Wildcats, skills which allowed him to move beyond the 8-of-44 effort he had from the field in Iowa’s previous five games.
“I spent a lot of time during the off-season working on my jumper and those shots haven’t been falling for me lately, so it was time to go back to something I knew would work,’’ Marble said. “The jumper will be there again, but I needed to step back to move forward.’’
Marble did just that in the first half, connecting on four of his first five attempts from the field to send Iowa on its way to a 29-25 lead at the break.
“When we had (Tre) Demps on him, he just punished him in the low post,’’ Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “He got that first dunk in transition and I think that jacked him up a bit.’’
It helped his teammates as well. The teams traded leads six times and the game was tied on seven occasions before baskets by Basabe and Aaron White in the final 1:16 of the opening half moved the Hawkeyes ahead to stay.
Marble’s resurgence only added to the Wildcats’ problems.
“When he is on, it changes our running game, changes our halfcourt offense,’’ Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “People really have to pay attention to him. He’s such a weapon because he can do so many things. The key for him is to shoot open shots, play his game, mix it, jumpers, drives, pull-ups, set things up for other people.’’
About the only thing the Wildcats had going for them in the first half was a determined effort on the offensive glass.
Northwestern scored eight points off of eight offensive rebounds over the first 20 minutes, negating what McCaffery considered a solid defensive effort from his team.
“Once we got that taken care of at halftime, it changed things,’’ White said.
Injuries which sent Wildcats’ big men Alex Olah and Jared Swopshire to the bench also forced Northwestern (13-11, 4-7 Big Ten) to go with a lineup with less length and allowed Iowa to pull away.
Josh Oglesby buried 3-pointers on the front and back end of a 10-0 run that started with 11:55 remaining, extending a 40-38 Hawkeye lead as part of his 10-point performance.
“We played our game, played the way we know how to. We stuck with it and didn’t let down,’’ Basabe said after Iowa bounced back from difficult road losses at Minnesota and Wisconsin earlier in the week.
McCaffery said the effort he saw from the Hawkeyes (15-9, 4-7) was not all that different from what he saw in those previous games.
He pointed to Marble’s play as an example.
“Against Wisconsin, he was so aggressive. I told him to just keep being aggressive, play the game with reckless abandon. He goes 1-for-10 and feels awful. … He missed some shots, but he was attacking the rim,’’ McCaffery said.
“In practice, he hasn’t let up one possession for us. I get nervous when I have a guy struggle who pouts in practice, doesn’t give effort. Devyn kept working and that allowed him to play through this kind of stuff.’’
Nobody appreciates that more than Marble.
“I felt like myself again, and it felt great to win again,’’ he said. “It wears on you, but now we all can move on.’’
Swopshire 2-4 3-3 8, Olah 3-6 0-0 6, Sobolewski 2-12 0-0 4, Hearn 5-13 2-2 13, Demps 2-7 4-4 8, Jimenez 0-0 0-0 0, Marcotullio 3-4 0-0 8, Turner 0-4 1-2 1, Abrahamson 3-7 0-0 8, Montgomery III 0-0 1-2 1, Cerina 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 11-13 57.
Basabe 4-4 0-0 8, White 1-5 5-6 7, Woodbury 2-5 2-2 6, Marble 8-13 4-4 21, Gesell 1-4 0-0 2, Olaseni 1-4 0-0 2, Oglesby 2-6 4-5 10, Clemmons 1-3 1-1 3, Rickert 0-1 0-0 0, Denning 0-0 0-0 0, McCabe 2-3 1-2 6, Ingram 0-0 0-0 0, May 2-2 2-2 6, Stokes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-50 19-22 71.
Halftime: Iowa 29-25. 3-Point Goals: Northwestern 6-25 (Marcotullio 2-3, Abrahamson 2-6, Swopshire 1-2, Hearn 1-6, Turner 0-1, Demps 0-1, Sobolewski 0-6), Iowa 4-12 (Oglesby 2-5, McCabe 1-1, Marble 1-3, Gesell 0-1, White 0-1, Clemmons 0-1). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Northwestern 31 (Swopshire 7), Iowa 34 (Marble, White 5). Assists: Northwestern 12 (Hearn 3), Iowa 16 (Marble 5). Total Fouls: Northwestern 17, Iowa 17. A: 15,267.