Jan. 29, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
EVANSTON, Ill. — After building a 24-point lead, the No. 17 University of Iowa women’s basketball team held on to defeat Northwestern, 102-99, on Thursday in front of 987 — many of them Hawkeye fans — inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The teams combined to make 32-of-46 3-point field goals (69.6 percent), with nine of those makes coming from Hawkeye senior guard Melissa Dixon, who poured in a team-high 29 points. Three Iowa players — Dixon, senior center Bethany Doolittle (26) and sophomore guard Ally Disterhoft (22) scored more than 20 points.
The Hawkeyes won their sixth straight game — and second in a row on the road — to improve to 17-3 overall, 8-1 in the Big Ten Conference. Northwestern is 14-6, 4-5. Iowa won the first meeting Jan. 14 in Iowa City, 83-70.
“We won on the road, we swept Northwestern, and it was a great win for our program,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes established a school record with 19 made 3-point field goals in the game. The previous mark was 17 against Idaho State on Dec. 7, 2013. The old mark in league play was 12 against Illinois on Feb. 14, 2010.
“Especially in the first half (Northwestern) was worried about Beth down low, so they were cramming in the paint a little bit which spread everything out and got me some open looks behind the 3,” Dixon said. “As always, my teammates did an awesome job finding me when I was open.”
The Hawkeyes made 33 field goals and had 32 assists — 12 from Logic and four apiece for Disterhoft, Jennings, and sophomore Alexa Kastanek.
Shooting percentages for both teams were stunning. Iowa made 56.9 percent from the field (33-of-58) and 67.9 percent from 3-point (19-of-28). The Hawkeyes sank 17-of-20 free throws, or 85 percent. Northwestern rallied from a 65-41 deficit with 18:20 to play by making 64.7 percent of its field goals in the second half (22-of-34). The Wildcats shot 53.7 for the game (36-of-67) and 72.2 percent from 3 (13-of-18). Northwestern was 14-of-20 from the line (70 percent).
“It was amazing,” Bluder said. “We shot the ball everywhere really well and we needed to because our defense and rebounding wasn’t there.”
The Wildcats held an edge on the boards, 35-27, and 19-11 in the second half.
Jennings also scored in double figures for Iowa with 16 points. Logic finished with four points and just four shot attempts, but she added five rebounds, two blocked shots, and two steals. Doolittle pulled down six rebounds and blocked four shots.
Three Northwestern players finished with double-figure points, paced by Nia Coffey with 35 points and eight rebounds. Ashley Deary scored 22 and Maggie Lyon added 20.
The showdown between the top two teams in the Big Ten is set for Sunday when Iowa heads to No. 5 Maryland (18-2, 9-0). The Terrapins won at Michigan on Jan. 29, 91-65.
“This is a tough week for us with three games,” Bluder said. “We’re going to get home, watch this film and see what our problems were on defense. We need to remember to commit to every single possession. Even if you have a 24-point lead you can never, ever let down. This is a great reminder for the team that no lead is ever enough.”
The Hawkeyes have won the first two legs of the “tough week” after knocking off Nebraska, 78-72 in overtime, on Jan. 26. Iowa has won 11 of its last 12 games and is off to its best start since starting 20-1 in 1995-96.
The Iowa-Maryland game will begin at 3 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by ESPN2.
The Hawkeyes prevailed in the only meeting between the teams, 53-50, on Dec. 6, 1992.