Feb. 11, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — If the weight of a losing streak is wearing on the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, you couldn’t tell by its comeback Monday.
Down by 12 points with 8:32 remaining in the game, the Hawkeyes bounced off the canvas and had three shots at a game-tying 3-pointer with less than a minute left before Nebraska held on for a 76-75 decision in front of 3,937 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The loss is the fourth in a row for Iowa (16-9 overall, 5-6 Big Ten); Nebraska improves to 18-6, 8-3 and has won all four meetings in the series since joining the Big Ten Conference.
“Well, another tough one,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Any time you lose a game by one point you always have those `what if’ situations, and you think about all the opportunities. Those are the ones that keep you awake at night.”
The Hawkeyes will have visions of Husker forward Jordan Hooper in their heads. She scored a game-high 29 points with eight rebounds, prompting Bluder to say, “it was just too much Jordan Hooper for us in this game.”
Iowa answered with its own big presence, coming in the form of senior center Morgan Johnson. Johnson made 9-of-11 field goals, pulled down 10 rebounds, and blocked four shots. She shared team-high scoring honors with sophomore guard Melissa Dixon, who sank 5-of-10 3-pointers and finished with 19 points.
“It was nice to see Morgan get on track,” Bluder said. “I thought we played with much better focus today; great determination, fought back, played well in crunch time.”
“It is kind of bitter at this point,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t matter about those stats, it just matters about the team. It hurts even more when you did everything you could.”
Samantha Logic, who did most of her damage on the floor with eight rebounds and six assists, made two free throws to pull the Hawkeyes to 72-69 with 1:33 remaining. Iowa misfired on three straight 3-point attempts — two by Jaime Printy, owner of 246 career made 3-pointers, and one by Dixon, who leads the team this season with 54.
“When it left my hand it felt great,” Printy said of her first attempt in the sequence. “You can’t do anything about those except keep shooting them the same way.”
Printy scored 16 points with four assists, junior Theairra Taylor scored 11 points with five rebounds. Taylor capped the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer with a second to play.
Iowa shot 43.8 percent from the field (28-of-64) compared to Nebraska’s 43.3-percent shooting (26-of-60).
Nebraska jumped to an 11-2 lead at the 17:48 mark of the first half, but Iowa rallied for nine straight points to draw even five minutes into the game. The Hawkeyes got within 1 points three times in the first half, the latest coming at 25-24 with 7:59 remaining. But the Huskers gradually added to their margin and held a 41-32 edge at intermission.
Iowa out-shot Nebraska in the first half (48.1 percent to 47.1), but the Huskers attempted seven more field goals and made four more 3-pointers.
Johnson was perfect from the field for the UI during the first 20 minutes (5-of-5) and had a team-high 10 points at the break. Logic added seven rebounds and five assists.
The Hawkeyes remain home Thursday to face Big Ten leader Penn State (20-3, 10-1). The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. (CT).
“We have to have wins now,” Johnson said. “No more close losses; learning how important one possession is, learning how important one game is from here on out, and taking it one game at a time, and staying together as a team. We’re a team that is more than capable and we can come back.”
With five regular season games remaining, Bluder said the Hawkeyes have work to do before sewing up an NCAA berth.
“I would like to see us win three more,” she said. “I think that would solidify things, but I don’t know. Who knows what the selection committee will think?”