Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 2/10/12

Northwestern knew it needed a win against Iowa Thursday night in order to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive. With that in mind, The Wildcats promptly turned in arguably their best performance of the season, a convincing 83-64 win over the Hawkeyes.

Point guard Dave Sobolewski led the way for NU, recording a season-high 26 points and team-high seven assists. The freshman’s impressive performance evoked memories of former Cats’ star Michael Juice Thompson. Sobolewski said that Thompson has helped him deal with recent criticism.

“Juice and I have been joking about other people saying that I’ve hit a wall,” he said. “I kinda use that stuff as motivation.”

While John Shurna and Drew Crawford both reached double figures, it was the Cats’ role players who shined against the Hawkeyes. Junior Alex Marcotullio had his best offensive performance of the year, recording a season-high 13 points that was highlighted by a stretch of three straight 3-point shots late in the second half. Sophomore Reggie Hearn was equally impressive, going 5-for-8 from the field and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc to finish with 16 points.

“Teams had been keying on John and Drew all year,” Marcotullio said. “It was time for other players to step up. We had five guys in double figures tonight, that’s a testament to our unselfishness.”

The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 7-3 lead, but NU quickly gained control with a 16-2 run. The Cats led 38-29 at the half and never looked back from there. The lead was just nine with 15 minutes remaining, but a three from Sobolewski followed by a jumper from Senior Davide Curletti quickly killed Iowa’s chances at a comeback.

With the win, NU moves to 15-8 and 5-6 in the Big Ten. The Cats will look to extend their three-game win streak when they travel to West Lafayette for a crucial matchup with Purdue on Sunday. This clash of bubble teams could go a long way towards determining NU’s fate on selection Sunday.

“We’ve had some rough games on the road, lost some real heartbreakers,” coach Bill Carmody said. “But now we have to prove ourselves on the road, so we’ll see.”

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