Playing Through Pain

Nov. 17, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Thrilling sporting events usually entail one or two standout individual performances. In the University of Iowa women’s basketball team’s exciting overtime win over Middle Tennessee, senior Jaime Printy’s 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to tie the game is one of those moments.

The gutsy performance by sophomore forward Bethany Doolittle might not grab the headlines, but her toughness in overcoming an injury helped spark the Hawkeyes to the victory.

Doolittle was a presence in the paint for Iowa in the first half, collecting five rebounds and blocking three shots in 12 minutes of play. With 6:43 left in the opening frame, Doolittle jumped for a rebound and landed awkwardly. In real time, the injury looked significant.

“I came down on my ankle pretty bad,” Doolittle said. “I rolled my ankle and felt a pop. I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to put weight on it. I eventually tried and was able to get off the court.”

“It was such a huge game for us. I wanted to be in there to give it all I had for the team. It was an important game for our goals this season and this game could show everyone what we could do.”
Sophomore Bethany Doolittle

The Oakdale, Minn., native spent a few minutes on the bench before heading to the training room for a closer look at what happened. Doolittle started to feel a little better and decided to see if playing in the game was an option.

“I was in a lot of pain at first,” Doolittle said. “Once I got moving, it started to loosen up and it felt a little bit better. I tried jogging up and down the tunnel. Initially, I didn’t think I was going to be able to go back in the game. After a couple of down-and-backs, it felt good enough to give it a try.”

With her ankle heavily taped and still in pain, Doolittle re-entered the game with 16:32 left in the second period. Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder was surprised that her starting forward was able to get back on the court.

“I didn’t think she was coming back,” Bluder said. “When it happened, it didn’t look very good. At halftime, I thought she was done for the game.”

Doolittle fought through pain, and a tough Blue Raider team, recording four points in the second half. After Printy’s 3-pointer forced overtime, Doolittle knew her team was close to getting an early signature win for its NCAA Tournament resume.

“It was such a huge game for us,” Doolittle said. “I wanted to be in there to give it all I had for the team. It was an important game for our goals this season and this game could show everyone what we could do.”

Printy’s six free throws in the overtime jump off the box score as the turning point in the extra frame, but Doolittle’s layup with 1:32 left gave Iowa a four-point lead. She also corralled three rebounds, including two offensive rebounds, giving the Hawkeyes a fighting chance.

“I had to dial in a little bit because the ankle was so sore,” Doolittle said of her overtime performance. “I just wanted to help the team get that win.”

Bluder knew what Doolittle was going through and praised her toughness down the stretch.

“She came back to have a really good game,” Bluder said. “I’m sure she was hurting quite a bit out there. She had four offensive rebounds, and they were pretty important.”

Doolittle finished the game with eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Her toughness, attitude and determination didn’t show up in the box score, but played a much bigger role than any statistic.