Dec. 28, 2013
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A balanced scoring effort sent the No. 21/25 University of Iowa women’s basketball team to its 12th victory of the season Saturday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes used a 43-10 run spanning halves to cruise to an 88-62 victory over North Dakota in their nonconference finale. Iowa enters its Big Ten Conference opener at Indiana on Jan. 2 with a 12-2 overall record.
“I feel good about our record going into Big Ten play,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “We know we have a first pass against an unbeaten on the road, and that’s a big challenge. We’ll start worrying about that in about 30 minutes.
“Right now, we’re happy with the victory over North Dakota.”
Junior Samantha Logic led a group of six Hawkeyes in double digits, netting 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting and a 9-of-12 performance from the charity stripe. She also had eight assists and seven rebounds.
Senior Theairra Taylor scored 14 points and had six rebounds, junior Melissa Dixon had 13 points, junior Bethany Doolittle and freshman Ally Disterhoft netted 12 points apiece and freshman Alexa Kastanek added 11 points. Sophomore Kali Peschel had a game-high 10 rebounds.
“We had great balance with six players in double figures, including two players off the bench,” said Bluder. “Ally and Alexa both shot the ball well. That was nice to see that firepower coming in off the bench.”
The Hawkeyes shot 46.3 percent (31-of-67) from the field and 36 percent (9-of-20) from 3-point range. Iowa also made 17-of-20 free throws (85 percent) and out-rebounded North Dakota, 40-37. The Hawkeyes also forced 21 turnovers.
North Dakota shot 39.7 percent (23-of-58) from the field and 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) from long range. It also made just 12-of-22 free throw attempts. Madi Buck led a trio of UND players in double digits, finishing with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting.
Trailing 24-20 with 6:49 remaining in the opening half, the Hawkeyes found their groove. Iowa used an 11-0 spurt to take a 31-24 lead and outscored North Dakota 25-4 to close out the half to take a 45-28 lead into the locker room.
Dixon opened the run with a 3-pointer to trim the lead to 24-23 before Disterhoft’s layup gave the Hawkeyes their first lead at 25-24. Dixon and Peschel followed with back-to-back triples to open a 31-24 advantage.
Following a layup by North Dakota’s Mia Loyd, Disterhoft joined the 3-point party before Dixon and Logic followed with two layups apiece. Kastanek became the fourth Hawkeye to drain a 3-pointer when she connected with four seconds remaining to send Iowa into the break with a 45-28 advantage.
“Our defense created the offense,” said Bluder. “Our defense got us going because we were able to get our fast break going. When we do that, we’re a hard team to defend.”
Coming out of the break, the Hawkeyes kept rolling, using an 18-6 run spurt to push the advantage to 63-34. Iowa’s starting backcourt trio of Logic, Dixon and Taylor accounted for 13 of the points during the stretch.
Down 67-45 with 10 minutes to play, North Dakota started clawing its way back. UND scored 13-of-15 points to trim the margin to 69-57 with 6:28 remaining before the Hawkeyes regained their footing.
“We got a lull in there for a while where we got stagnant and thought the game was over at that point,” said Bluder. “We can’t have those lulls against Big Ten competition.”
North Dakota started quickly, jumping out to a 13-4 lead over the first four minutes to force a Hawkeye timeout. Iowa responded with seven straight points courtesy of a pair of Doolittle jumpers and a Kastanek 3-pointer to trim the lead to 13-11 with 14:09 left in the half.
The Hawkeyes cut the lead to 19-18 at the 9:31 mark and 24-20 with 6:49 remaining in the half before turning on the after burners.
Iowa (12-2) opens Big Ten Conference play Jan. 2 at Indiana. Game time is set for 6 p.m. (CT) in Bloomington, Ind.