Jan. 26, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Starting fast is nice, but finishing with a flurry can be more rewarding.
The University of Iowa women’s basketball team shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the second half and overtime (22-of-37), overcame a 10-point deficit with 13 minutes to play, and ended an eight-game losing streak to Nebraska by claiming a 78-72 overtime victory in a battle of top 18 teams Monday in front of 4,489 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes (16-3 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) have won five in a row, 10 of 11, and all 12 home games this season. They started Monday in an 8-0 hole, missed 13 of their first 16 field goals, and All-Big Ten post player Bethany Doolittle sat the final 16:18 of the first half with two fouls.
“We came in at half and everybody came together and said, `Look, our shots haven’t been falling, we can’t control that, but what we can control is our rebounding and defensive effort in the second half,'” Disterhoft said. “At no point did my teammates or coaches ever doubt that my next shot wasn’t going to go in.”
Instead of overpowering with early offense, Iowa stayed within striking distance with defense. The Hawkeyes went into the locker room at halftime trailing, 28-21, but they received inspiring contributions off the bench in the first half from Kali Peschel and Chase Coley. Peschel scored five points with four rebounds in 13 minutes; Coley added four points, three rebounds, and a blocked shot in nine minutes. Coley played more than nine minutes in a game just three times before Monday.
“Our bench came in, everybody from Claire (Till) to Chase to Christina (Buttenham), to Kali,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought they all contributed, but of course Ally’s 20 points in the second half — a double-double with 13 rebounds — Sam has 22 (points) and eight assists. Great job by these young ladies.”
Iowa opened the second half by making five of its first eight field goal attempts. The Hawkeyes methodically reduced Nebraska’s lead and went ahead for the first time (58-57) with 3:50 left in the game on a jump shot by Logic.
Logic scored a game-high 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting on Samantha Logic Bobblehead Night. While most of those souvenir toy give-aways show little resemblance to the real player, this one was spot on in one regard: there was a huge smile on both the bobblehead and the real Logic after the game.
“As a competitor, you don’t want to keep losing to a team,” Logic said. “For us seniors it was pretty big and pretty special. It was huge to have the crowd provide us with energy. Any little run we had they were behind us.”
The Hawkeyes made 58.6 percent of their field goals in the second half (17-of-29), led by Disterhoft (6-of-9, eight rebounds) and Logic (5-of-9, seven assists). Even that hot shooting was nothing compared to the five-minute overtime when Iowa was 5-of-8 from the field (62.5 percent) and 7-of-8 from the line.
“You have to think that everything is going in all the time, even if you’ve had a lot of misses in the past,” Disterhoft said.
Foul trouble might have limited Doolittle’s time on the court, but in 23 minutes, she scored 12 points with six rebounds, four steals, and three blocked shots. She scored four of Iowa’s first six points in overtime and her two made foul shots with 2:30 to play gave the Hawkeyes the lead for good at 67-65.
The 15th-ranked Cornhuskers (15-4, 5-3) lost for the first time in six games and are now two games behind second-place Iowa in the Big Ten standings. Emily Cady led Nebraska with 19 points and 18 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes will not practice Tuesday and return to action Thursday at Northwestern (14-5, 4-4). Iowa won the first meeting, 83-70, on Jan. 14 in Iowa City.
“It makes it a little bit easier, the team understands (Northwestern),” Bluder said. “They know their strengths and weaknesses, understand their offense and what they’re good at.”