Commentary: Bad break costs women hoopsters

BY EVELYN LAU | MARCH 08, 2010 7:30 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Iowa women’s basketball team deserved a better fate than what it received on Sunday.

As a No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament, the Hawkeyes put together a remarkable run to the championship game against top-seeded and 10th-ranked Ohio State.

After leading for most of the contest, Iowa just couldn’t hold on, falling 66-64 to the Buckeyes.

The turning point of the game came when Ohio State had possession of the ball. With the squads tied at 64-64, with 1.9 seconds left, the referees called a foul on Iowa freshman Trisha Nesbitt. It allowed reigning Big Ten Player of the Year and junior Jantel Lavender to reach the free-throw line. Her two buckets from the charity stripe gave Ohio State the lead and sealed the game.

During the postgame press conference, head coach Lisa Bluder addressed the issue of the foul call.

“Obviously, I wish [the ref] wouldn’t have made the call,“ she said. “I think it would have been a great overtime. … It is what it is.”

While the 10th-year Iowa coach won’t say it, I will.

To determine a game with under two seconds left by calling a foul when it hasn’t been called the previous 39 minutes in the contest is questionable. And with so much on the line, how they can feel good about that decision is beyond me.

I’ll give Lavender credit; she was clutch. She nailed both of them perfectly. She was named the Most Outstanding Player for a reason. I had to bite my tongue in disbelief with that ruling.

I almost had the same feeling in my stomach while watching Lavender drain those feel throws as I did when Devin Barclay hit the game-winning overtime field goal for the Ohio State football team back in November against Iowa in a game that decided the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl representative.
Slow, painful, and inevitable.

While the team may be left in tears now, the Hawkeyes are undoubtedly a force in the Big Ten. Iowa should have been ranked in the top 25 coming into this game, but because of a slow start during the beginning of the season, weren’t.

The Hawkeyes’ strong play the last month and a half — in which it won 11 out of its last 14 games — has likely guaranteed them a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Losing to Ohio State twice by a mere eight points, I hope the Hawkeyes get a chance to redeem themselves.

“I feel like we played hard,” Bluder said. “We didn’t get the victory, and it hurts right now, but I think we’ll bounce back and be ready for the tournament.”

Me, too.

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