Feb. 14, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — A ninth double-double of the season by senior center Morgan Johnson and some sharpshooting from long range by sophomore guard Melissa Dixon wasn’t enough for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team to overcome No. 8 Penn State Thursday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The league-leading Nittany Lions (21-3 overall, 11-1 Big Ten) couldn’t get much breathing room until a 17-6 run in the second half during an 81-69 decision. With its fifth consecutive loss, Iowa falls to 16-10, 5-7.
There were bright spots for the Hawkeyes. Penn State entered the game allowing 56.5 points and game and Iowa totaled 69. Nittany Lion opponents shoot 35.1 percent from the field, and the Hawkeyes made 26-of-57 field goals (45.6).
“I thought we played a decent first half and I felt offensively we did a pretty good job,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “The downfall was our free throws. We’re usually a great free-throw shooting team and we did not take advantage of the free throws.”
Johnson posted her third straight double-double and ninth of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. She made 8-of-16 field goals, but her 1-of-5 performance from the line mirrored an infrequent poor shooting game for the Hawkeyes from the line (11-of-19).
Dixon was 4-of-9 from 3-point range and scored 16 points. In the last two games she has made 9-of-19 from behind the arc.
“She has been doing it for us all year,” Bluder said. “She is that sixth player that gives you a spark and it’s not just on the offensive end. She comes in and plays really good defense for us, too, and we’re not afraid to put her on the best perimeter offensive player for the other team.”
UI sophomore center Bethany Doolittle scored 13 points with six rebounds and four assists, and junior guard Theairra Taylor added 11 points and three boards. Senior guard Jaime Printy, Iowa’s leading scorer in Big Ten action, was 0-of-5 from the field and finished with two points, her lowest point total since scoring one against Illinois State in the second game of the season.
“Printy is a great shooter and when she gets wide-open looks, she’s going to knock them down,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “A point of emphasis for us was not to let her have wide-open looks, making it tough for her to get easy touches and I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting her touches.”
“They put a lot of ball pressure on her and unfortunately, she got rattled out there,” Bluder said.
Bluder was disappointed with the Hawkeyes’ defensive effort.
“We made too many mental errors on turnovers that gave them easy score opportunities,” she said. “Defensively is where we’re the most disappointed with this game.”
For the second straight outing Iowa found itself trailing at halftime despite shooting better from the field than its opponent. The Hawkeyes trailed 37-34 at the break, even though they made 50 percent of their field goals (14-of-28). Penn State shot 41.9 percent from the field and made one less field goal (13-of-31), but the Nittany Lions doubled Iowa’s production from the free throw line (8-to-4).
Dixon scored 10 points in the first half, making 2-of-5 3-point field goals. Doolittle and Johnson scored eight points apiece, Johnson collected five rebounds, including three offensive.
A made jump shot by Johnson with 6:09 left in the first half gave the Hawkeyes a 26-24 lead — their last of the contest.
Iowa hits the road for its next two games — Sunday, Feb. 17, at Purdue, and then the following Sunday, Feb. 24, at Nebraska. The Hawkeyes defeated Purdue, 62-46, on Jan. 20, for Bluder’s 600th victory as a head coach; they lost to Nebraska, 76-75, on Feb. 11.