March 7, 2013
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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Seniors Morgan Johnson and Jaime Printy scored 18 points apiece as the University of Iowa women’s basketball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday with a 60-55 win against Northwestern in Sears Centre Arena.
It was the second time the Hawkeyes (20-11) defeated Northwestern (13-17) in the last four days. The teams concluded the regular season March 3 with Iowa winning, 62-45, in Evanston, Ill.
Iowa returns to the court Friday to play Nebraska, the No. 2 seed, at 11:30 a.m. (CT) in one of four quarterfinal matchups. The Cornhuskers won both meetings during the regular season: 76-75 in Iowa City on Feb. 11, and 66-46 in Lincoln on Feb. 24.
The Hawkeyes never trailed in Thursday’s game against Northwestern, leading by as many as 11 points in the first half and by 15 points (57-42) with 3:34 to go.
“You know coaches, we’re never happy and we always think there is room for improvement, even in March,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “There are areas we can improve on; we’re just excited to be playing again tomorrow.”
In a fashion typical of the Hawkeyes this season, they compiled 17 assists on 20 made field goals. Sophomore guard Samantha Logic handed out six assists to go with 11 rebounds and six points.
“We emphasize assists and team play all the time,” Bluder said. “I think people like Sam Logic would rather have an assist any day than a basket. That’s our philosophy.”
Bluder was also pleased with Iowa’s defensive effort. The Hawkeyes limited Northwestern to 36.1-percent shooting from the field (20 percent from 3-point range), and won the rebounding battle, 41-39.
“Any time Northwestern scores 55 or below, they are usually on the losing end of things,” Bluder said. “I thought it was a defensive situation.”
Johnson and sophomore Bethany Doolittle contributed another strong inside presence for Iowa. Johnson made 8-of-12 field goals and Doolittle was 3-of-8. As a team, the Hawkeyes made 20-of-57 field goals (35.1 percent) and 2-of-16 3-pointers (12.5), but they were 18-of-23 from the free throw line.
“We got to the free throw line quite a bit at the end of the game and that’s good,” Bluder said. “We’re a good free throw shooting team. We shot the ball well inside — Morgan and Bethany were both shooting the ball well. I wish we would have gotten the ball inside to them a little bit better.”
Iowa attempted 13 more free throws than Northwestern.
Johnson grabbed nine rebounds, had four steals and blocked two shots to go along with 18 points. “We knew we had to come in with a little bit of a different game plan, so coach came up with a couple new wrinkles we could throw at them,” Johnson said. “I think we did a good job executing and continued to look for what we are good at, and that’s what got us the win.”
Printy made 8-of-9 free throws and two 3-point field goals to finish with 18 points, the most points for her in a game since netting 21 at Minnesota on Feb. 7, a span of seven games. Doolittle scored 10 points with three steals.
The win snapped a three-game losing skid for the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Tournament. Their last win was 59-54 over Michigan State in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament. Bluder has an 11-11 record in 13 postseason league competitions.
The victory is Iowa’s 20th of the season. The Hawkeyes have won 20 games seven times under head coach Lisa Bluder, reaching the plateau in five of the past six years.
Johnson played in her 127th career game at Iowa, tying Kamille Wahlin for first all-time in games played. Johnson also grabbed nine rebounds against Northwestern. The effort moved Johnson’s career rebounding total to 865, passing Tangela Smith (859 career rebounds) for fourth all-time.
Logic dished out a team-best six assists, passing Kachine Alexander (339 career assists) for 11th all-time in career assists. Logic has tallied 340 assists during her Iowa career.
Logic added 11 rebounds, also a team-best Thursday. It was Logic’s fifth double-digit rebound performance of the season, and the 11th of her Hawkeye career.
Junior Theairra Taylor swatted a career-high five shots, breaking her previous best of four. Her five blocks are one shy of the Big Ten Tournament.
Printy went 8-of-9 at the free throw line, bringing her season free throw percentage to 92.0 (127-138). Her current season percentage would break the Iowa single-season mark of 89.4 percent.