Jan. 5, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Lisa Bluder doesn’t expect her University of Iowa women’s basketball team to get bigger, faster, or stronger in the hours leading up to hosting Minnesota on Wednesday.
She does expect the Hawkeyes to box out.
No. 15 Penn State utilized a huge size advantage Sunday by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds and scoring 16 second-chance points during an 87-71 decision favoring the Nittany Lions on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win leaves the defending Big Ten Conference champions with a record of 10-3 overall, 1-0 in the Big Ten Conference. Iowa is 12-4, 0-2.
The Hawkeyes trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half, but crept to within one point (44-43) when UI senior Theairra Taylor converted a layup with 15:52 to play. A 3-point field goal by junior Samantha Logic pulled Iowa within three (61-58) with 9:15 remaining, but the Nittany Lions closed strong and pulled away.
“I want to congratulate Penn State. We got beat by a very good team today,” Bluder said. “When you’re going against a team like that, you have to stick to fundamentals and you have to shoot the ball really well. We did not do those things. Penn State out-shot us from every area including the free throw line. The rebounds were a big margin for us.”
The starting front line for the Nittany Lions was 6-foot-5, 6-3, 6-3; Iowa countered with 6-4, 6-1, and 5-11. Penn State accumulated 50 rebounds (16 offensive) while the Hawkeyes had 34 rebounds (13 offensive).
Iowa shot 40.6-percent from the field for the game, Penn State made 47.8 percent, including 51.5-percent over the final 20 minutes when the Hawkeyes made several runs. Iowa went to the line two more times than Penn State (22 to 20), but the Nittany Lions made three more shots.
UI junior guard Melissa Dixon scored a team-high 22 points and made 4-of-11 from 3-point range. Logic scored 13 points with 12 assists in 40 minutes — as an added bonus, she drew the bulk of the defensive assignment on Penn State senior Maggie Lucas. Lucas finished with a game-high 27, but she was held scoreless from 14:13 in the first half until 7:03 remained in the game.
“We are asking a lot of Sam,” Bluder said. “Sam wouldn’t want it any other way. She is a competitor, she wants to guard their best player and she wants to be leading this team. Sam gave a lot out there.”
Taylor added 10 points — the ninth time she has scored in double figures this season. Sophomore Kali Peschel scored nine points with two blocked shots.
The Hawkeyes play their third conference game in seven days Wednesday when they host Minnesota (11-4, 0-1) with tipoff at 7 p.m. (CT).
“The Big Ten is a long season, so we have to learn for this loss and bounce back against a tough Minnesota team,” Dixon said. “We need to learn from what we did wrong (Sunday) and take away some of the positives going into Wednesday.”
“We are not going to get bigger, faster or stronger in two days,” Bluder said. “To me, it’s fundamentals and communication.”