N. Iowa 67, Iowa 50

BY foxsports • December 14, 2009

Kwadzo Ahelegbe scored 20 points as Northern Iowa beat Iowa 67-50 Tuesday night to push its winning streak to five games.

Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder each added 10 for the Panthers (6-1), who went on an early 22-1 run in beating the rival Hawkeyes (3-6) for the first time since 2006.

Iowa crept within 51-43 midway through the second half. But Ahelegbe buried a pair of jumpers and a hit a layup off a steal to give Northern Iowa a 61-46 lead with about six minutes left.

The win marks just the third time Northern Iowa has beaten instate foes Iowa and Iowa State in the same season.

Matt Gatens scored 18 to lead Iowa, which played its second game under interim head coach Chad Walthall.

Coach Todd Lickliter was released from the hospital on Tuesday after a procedure to repair a tear in his carotid artery.

Freshman Eric May's 3-pointer pulled Iowa within 37-31 early in the second half, its smallest deficit since the opening minutes. But the Panthers answered with an 11-2 run, and Kerwin Dunham's open 3 from the corner gave Northern Iowa a 48-33 lead with just more than 13 minutes left.

Iowa threatened again before Ahelegbe almost single-handedly put the game out of Iowa's reach.

First, he drove to the paint, used a spin move to get space and hit a 10-footer. He followed that with a 16-footer and a nifty assist to Eglseder down low, then stripped Iowa's Anthony Tucker at midcourt for a layup to push the Panthers' lead to 16 with just less than six minutes to go.

It was the first true road game of the year for the Hawkeyes, and they got off to a strong start by burying a pair of 3-pointers. But that would be the last time Iowa had any control of the game.

Northern Iowa responded quickly, putting the Hawkeyes in a major hole with a 22-1 run - capped by a 3 from Johnny Moran - to jump ahead by as much as 24-7.

Iowa rallied to cut the Panthers lead to 35-24 by halftime.

The Hawkeyes loss was tempered by the news that Lickliter was out of the hospital and recuperating at home.

Lickliter went to a hospital for tests on Friday because of persistent headaches, and doctors discovered the beginning of a tear in his carotid artery - a vessel that supplies blood to the brain.

Doctors placed a stent in Lickliter's carotid artery on Saturday. He was released from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, but doctors advised him to rest for the remainder of the week.

Lickliter has missed two games. Though he said he feels like he's ``on the mend,'' Lickliter will likely be out Friday when Iowa faces Iowa State.

``It's been pretty stressful. I love the game, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to coach basketball and to be the head coach at Iowa,'' Lickliter said Tuesday during a pre-game radio show, his first comments since being hospitalized. ``I'm not going to miss basketball unless it is an emergency, and that was the case.

``It was something where I had to make a decision on to get better. We went with what the medical team told us, and they wanted to do it right away.''

Walthall was the head coach at Division III Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa from 2000-07 before joining Lickliter's staff. He led Iowa past Prairie View A&M 80-51 on Saturday.

The attendance was listed at 6,480 in the McLeod Center, which seats roughly 7,000. It was a surprisingly strong crowd given the major winter storm that blanketed Iowa on Tuesday, but also an indication of the interest in this growing rivalry.

The National Weather Service expected as much as 14 inches of snow over much of Iowa. Winds estimated at 25-35 mph, with gusts of 50 mph, prompted blizzard warnings throughout the state.

The weather didn't bother the Panthers, who've now beaten teams from the ACC (Boston College), the Big 12 (Iowa State) and the Hawkeyes of the Big Ten.

The Panthers also swept Iowa and Iowa State in 1997-98 and 2006-07.

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