Jan. 22, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A quick and seemingly proven way to boost your field goal — and winning –percentage is to begin a game by making six straight shots and 10 of your first 11.
The No. 18 University of Iowa women’s basketball team did that Thursday in front of 3,584 en route to a 76-70 victory over Michigan on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa is 11-0 at home this season.
In the Hawkeyes’ classic share-the-wealth approach, the opening hot streak was carried out by four starters: Bethany Doolittle, Melissa Dixon, Ally Disterhoft, Whitney Jennings, Disterhoft (again), and Jennings (again). Claire Till and Samantha Logic also made field goals before Iowa missed its second shot of the game.
With its fourth win in a row, Iowa improved to 15-3 overall, 6-1 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are in sole possession of second place in the conference and they keep the pressure on league-leading Maryland (15-2, 6-0), which plays back-to-back road games at Indiana (Sunday) and Michigan (Jan. 29). The Wolverines are now 12-6, 4-3. The Hawkeyes last started 6-1 in league play during the 1997-98 season.
“It feels good to be in second place, but it’s early,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “There are a lot of games left and we know that. We’re going to enjoy this, but at the same time Nebraska comes to town Monday and they have been our nemesis.”
Bluder saw a return to “Hawkeye Basketball” with 25 assists on 32 field goals, compared to just seven assists four days earlier at Michigan State.
“We won as a team and we won playing Iowa basketball again,” Bluder said. “We passed the ball well, we looked for that open shot. They tried to double Beth and she made them pay for that. We handled their press well.”
“Hawkeye Basketball” has also become identified by multiple double-digit scorers. Dixon led Iowa with 16 points, followed by Disterhoft (14), Doolittle and Logic (13), and Jennings (12). Logic added team highs in assists (11) and rebounds (seven).The Hawkeyes shot 57.1 percent from the field (32-of-56); Iowa is 15-1 this season when three or more players score in double figures.
In 10 seconds Doolittle 10 equaled her scoring output of two points from that 52-50 win against the Spartans. That’s how long it took for Logic to find her for a layup that put the Hawkeyes ahead, 2-0. Iowa then used a 7-0 run to go up 9-2 while shooting 4-of-4 from the field. By the time they misfired — at the 13:38 mark of the first half — the Hawkeyes led, 14-6.
“Breathe a sigh of relief there,” Bluder said. “We were concerned about their press and when they had to take it off, that was a really good sign for us because we felt in the quarter court we were going to be pretty good.”
Michigan closed the final five minutes of the first half on a 12-7 run to cut Iowa’s lead to 36-32. The Hawkeye marksmanship cooled a bit over the final 13 minutes and by halftime they had made 15-of-25 for 60 percent. Dixon and Logic had eight points for Iowa at the break; the Wolverines entered Thursday as the top 3-point shooting team in the league (39.3 percent), but they missed their first 10 attempts and finished 5-of-21 from long range.
“I thought we identified their shooters well,” Bluder said. “We gave up some (two-point field goals) because we were spreading out our zone, but we knew they were good 3-point shooters and that was what we wanted to do in that situation.”
Iowa used a 6-0 run early in the second half to take a 46-34 lead with 16:54 remaining. The Hawkeyes’ first five baskets of the second half were layups. Iowa’s largest lead was 15 (60-45)with 9:51 remaining.
“The second half we got it going defensively which allowed us to run,” Bluder said. “Once you start that it gets better and better and the players love it.”
Iowa opened the game with a 14-4 lead and began the second half with a 10-2 run.
“Any time you see the ball go through the net a couple times it gives you a little more confidence for the rest of the game,” said Jennings, who made two 3-point field goals.
Cyesha Goree led Michigan with 26 points (11-of-14 from the field) and 13 rebounds.
“Cyesha Goree is as good of a post as there is in the conference,” Bluder said. “She is an excellent rebounder, we had a hard time keeping her off the glass.”
The Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Monday for a matchup against Nebraska. Tip-off is 8 p.m. (CT).
“We’re going to be ready Monday night,” Logic said. “They have a great team and we will have to be clicking on all cylinders.”