Brooks Barnhizer looks to make a play. Barnhizer was one of four Wildcats in double-digits, but the 'Cats still fell short against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Photo by AJ Anderson/North by Northwestern.

You can’t win them all.

When the Northwestern Wildcats (20-9, 11-7 B1G) took the court against the Iowa Hawkeyes (18-12, 10-9 B1G) on Saturday, they were undefeated at home in the Big Ten and shorthanded. Injuries to fourth-year guard Ty Berry and graduate guard Ryan Langborg meant the offense was without two playmakers and the defense lacked depth. Ultimately, the Wildcats fell at home for the first time in conference play in a shootout 87-80 as they just couldn’t keep pace with the Hawkeyes.

“We’re not in the moral victory business with our program. Our mentality now is you figure it out with who you’ve got, so you know injuries, no injuries, who’s playing, who’s not playing… we kind of just rallied around each other,” head coach Chris Collins said after the loss.

Third-year guard Brooks Barnhizer added, “Yea, I think, you know, it doesn’t matter who’s out there and who’s available, but the standard is winning.”

Graduate guard Boo Buie led all scorers with 27 points, and Barnhizer added another 20 points, on his birthday no less. It just wasn’t enough as the Hawkeyes exploded for 51 points in the second half after trailing 37-36 at halftime.

Both teams were evenly matched from the three-point range, each shooting 10-20, with Buie making an astounding six out of seven threes. Ultimately, the difference was that Northwestern shot a bit worse from the field in the second half compared to the first (56% to 52%) while Iowa drastically improved their shooting from 47% to a red-hot 63%.

Coming off of a huge road win at Maryland (15-15, 7-12 B1G) where they were also shorthanded, the ’Cats dropped just their second home game of the season, and their first since Dec. 13. This loss stings, but it doesn’t knock them out of postseason contention.

“Why not us?” the Wildcats say. Why can’t they make the tournament for only the third time in school history? Why can’t they win 12 or more B1G games in back-to-back seasons? Why can’t they persevere through the injuries to Berry, Langborg and now fourth-year center Matthew Nicholson, who left Saturday’s game with a foot injury?

This team has proven they are resilient and tough. One loss won’t keep them down. They’ll head to Michigan State (17-12, 9-9 B1G) on Wednesday, March 6, to try and sweep the Spartans this season. A win in East Lansing will all but wrap up another tournament berth for the ’Cats, their first consecutive NCAA tournament berths in school history.

Buie said after the game, “I know if you’re on the court with me, I believe in you… Even if you don’t really believe in yourself that much, I'm still going to believe in you and try to make you believe in yourself more. But yeah, I mean, we have enough to win, so no excuses.”

Thumbnail by AJ Anderson/North by Northwestern.