Women’s basketball falls prey to Purdue


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The Iowa women’s basketball team entered West Lafayette, Ind., looking to escape from the Big Ten’s cellar.

Instead, the Hawkeyes (8-10, 1-6 Big Ten) left Mackey Arena with a 81-59 defeat by Purdue (9-9, 4-3) on Sunday. The loss was Iowa’s fourth straight, leaving head coach Lisa Bluder and company stuck in the conference’s dreaded 11th spot.

Purdue set out to rebound from a crushing 74-47 loss at Minnesota on Jan. 14, and it did so emphatically, claiming a swift 2-0 lead 16 seconds into the contest. The Boilermakers never relinquished the lead.

“We paid the penalty for [the Boilermakers] playing probably not as well as they wanted to at Minnesota,” Bluder said during her postgame press conference. “That’s a sign of a good team, though, when you have a performance like you did at Minnesota, and then you bounce back, and you play that hard. I thought they really just took it away from us right away from the beginning.”

Poor Hawkeye shooting and a boiling-hot Boilermaker offense spelled early doom for Iowa. The Hawkeyes began the game by shooting 2-of-10 from the field.

Brittany Rayburn sparked Purdue early, scoring 12 points in the first six minutes on 4-of-4 3-point shooting. Rayburn’s 19 first-half points helped stretch the Boildermaker margin to as many as 24 points in the first half as Purdue led the Hawkeyes 42-18 with 2:58 remaining.

“I don’t know why we were so out of sorts to begin this game,” Bluder said. “Sometimes, when a team gives up points like we did, it mentally just shakes you. It takes you out of things. … When you’re so young like we are, that’s going to happen. I think that Purdue just came out and played with an intensity that was pretty darn good.”

Rayburn cooled slightly in the game’s second frame, adding nine points to finish with a game-high 29. But her first-half performance proved to be a devastating blow to the Hawkeyes’ chances.

“[Rayburn’s] a tremendous 3-point shooter,” Bluder said. “And obviously, we knew that coming into it, but we didn’t keep her identified on the floor, and she had too many open looks. Open or not, she can put them down. She’s just a tremendous player.”

Junior Kachine Alexander and freshman Morgan Johnson were among the lone bright spots for the Hawkeyes.

Alexander posted a team-high 18 points in addition to eight rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Johnson netted six points and also collected 10 rebounds and two blocks.

Iowa will look to snap its current four-game skid when the Hawkeyes return to action on Thursday for a meeting with Illinois (11-5, 3-3) in Champaign, Ill., at 7 p.m. The game can be seen live on BigTenNetwork.com.

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