March 7, 2014
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By JAMES ALLAN
INDIANAPOLIS — There will be a new Big Ten Tournament champion in 2014, the Hawkeyes made sure of it.
The No. 23 University of Iowa women’s basketball team used a 51-point second half and rallied from a seven-point deficit with 12 minutes to play to knock off two-time defending champion and 17th-ranked Purdue, 87-80, on Friday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Hawkeyes improve to 25-7 on the year, and they avenged a one-point regular season loss to the Boilermakers in a game where Iowa led by 16-points at the break.
“Our players wanted this rematch, they wanted to have an opportunity to play Purdue again,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “They’re a great team, but it hurts when you’re up 16 and you lose by one point. Those things stay with you a lot.
“We were down seven with 12 minutes left, and we had to remind them of those situations that we had a big lead and they came back and beat us… we can turn the tables.”
Iowa’s victory sets up a semifinal matchup against eighth-seeded Ohio State — the Hawkeyes’ first semifinal appearance since 2010 — on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT). The Buckeyes won for the second-straight day, upsetting top-seeded Penn State, 99-82, in Friday’s first quarterfinal matchup.
“Ohio State shot the ball extremely well, lights out,” said junior Samantha Logic, who finished with 12 points and 11 assists for her 11th double-double. “We have to try to contain them as much as we can.”
Iowa swept the series against Ohio State during the regular season, winning 81-74 in Columbus on Jan. 19 and 65-61 in Iowa City on Feb. 27.
After being held scoreless in the first half, the Hawkeyes went to junior Bethany Doolittle early and often in half No. 2. The second-team All-Big Ten selection scored eight of Iowa’s first 12 points, allowing the Hawkeyes to keep pace in an offensive-minded start to the second half.
“Beth is so good, I am never going to go away from her,” said Bluder. “I believe in her so much. When she gets the ball a couple feet away, she is so accurate and is one of the best in the Big Ten in field goal percentage.”
After keeping maintaining their four-point halftime lead, Purdue stretched its advantage to 56-49 at the 12:15 mark, before Iowa responded with a 10-2 run to give the Hawkeyes their first lead since midway through the first half.
“You’re down seven, you could easily fold or lose focus,” said Logic. “We kept our focus today. You don’t know who the ball is going to go to, and on our team, anyone can make a play. We had a couple of different people at some point make huge plays, and that’s what we feed off of.”
The Boilermakers regained the advantage; scoring seven-straight points to take a 69-63 lead with 6:20 to play, but Iowa stayed the course before taking control, using a 20-5 run over a six-minute stretch to advance on to Saturday’s semifinals.
Two Ally Disterhoft free throws cut the lead to 69-65 before a Claire Till layup made the score 70-67 with 4:50 left. Disterhoft followed with two more free throws to cut it to one before her layup — her first field goal of the game — with 3:48 remaining gave Iowa a 71-70 lead.
The Hawkeyes kept their foot on the gas, using a Doolittle jumper to make the score 79-74, a Theairra Taylor layup to push the lead to seven and a pair of Melissa Dixon free throws to extend the margin to 83-74.
After shooting 34.2 percent in the opening half, Iowa made 17-of-31 shots over the final 20 minutes to finish with a 43.5 percent field goal percentage. The Hawkeyes made 5-of-16 3-point attempts and 22-of-24 free throws. Iowa also had 18 assists and forced 20 turnovers, which led to 32 points.
All five Hawkeye starters reached double figures in the victory. Dixon paced the team with 18 points on 5-of-14 shooting, Taylor scored 17 points — 15 in the first half — Doolittle scored all 16 of her points over the final 20 minutes and Disterhoft and Logic had 12 apiece. Disterhoft also had a team-high eight rebounds.
“That’s how we want to play,” said Logic. “Anyone can have 20 on any given night. Theairra played fantastic today, had huge buckets and played great defense. Every game you don’t know who you can scout for. We don’t have any 30-point scorers, but if you have five with 10-plus, it’s tough to guard.”
Purdue shot 50.8 percent (30-of-59) for the game, and made 7-of-19 3-point attempts. Four Boilermakers reached double digits with guard Courtney Moses leading the way with a game-high 24 points.
Iowa jumped out to a 13-8 lead over the first four-plus minutes behind seven points from Taylor and three Hawkeye 3-pointers. Taylor made 6-of-12 shots and 2-of-3 3-pointers in the first half, scoring 15 of Iowa’s 35 points.
With the score tied at 22, Purdue took advantage of Iowa’s foul trouble, using a 15-6 run to open a 37-28 advantage with 3:10 left. The Hawkeyes closed the gap to 39-35 at the break by scoring seven of the final nine points, including a 3-pointer by Taylor for the final points of the half.
The Boilermakers shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field in the first half, but committed 12 turnovers. Iowa scored 19 points on the miscues, which kept it in the game after making just 13-of-38 (34.2 percent) attempts over the opening 20 minutes.