Iowa women's basketball moves on in the preseason WNIT


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It was a short 40 hours for the Iowa women’s basketball team. Head coach Lisa Bluder was worried about her team’s legs and decided to sit a few of her starters in the latter portion of the Nov. 9 season-opening win over Northern Illinois to help with the quick carryover.

It didn’t matter, though.

The Hawkeyes (2-0) disposed of their second-straight Prairie State opponent on Sunday afternoon, defeating Illinois State (1-1) in the quarterfinals of the Preseason WNIT, 74-64.

“I thought we did really well,” Bluder said. “For them to be that focused to get ready for this game, and to go over scouting reports, to go through the film … We got a lot accomplished in a short amount of time.”

Theairra Taylor recorded her first-career double-double to lead the Hawkeyes. Taylor, a junior guard, tallied 10 points on 3-of-6 shots from the floor and was 3-of-4 from the free-throw line. She also snagged 11 rebounds, all of which came on defense.

The St. Paul, Minn., native also dished out 5 assists, even though she only played 21 minutes in the game. Her time on the court was highlighted by Bluder’s favorite play of the game — when sophomore guard Sam Logic found Taylor running through to the paint on transition in the middle of the second-half.

Taylor, in one fluid motion, snatched the pass out in front of a defender and laid the ball in, extending Iowa’s lead to 56-39. The play brought the Black and Gold fans to their feet and helped establish Iowa’s dominance late in the game.

“It’s fun for me right now,” Taylor said. “It hasn’t been fun for me in a long time … It’s really exciting. There’s a lot on the line.”

Senior Morgan Johnson led all Iowa scorers with 24 points — half of those points from the free-throw line alone. Johnson shot 12-of-13, a new personal best in both free throws made and free throw percentage for the Platte City, Mo., native.

Johnson wasn’t the only Hawkeye to find the free-throw line numerous times on Sunday. Iowa shot 32-of-41 from the charity stripe, one make shy of a school record. The free-throws came in bunches due to both the Black and Gold’s presence in the post, as well as an Illinois State full court press.

Bluder was proud that her team shot well from the line. The Hawkeyes couldn’t hit many shots early in the game — they missed nine jumpers alone in the first 10 minutes compared to making 8 of the team’s first 10 free throw attempts.

“When you go in there just expecting to get fouled, you still try to go and make shots,” Johnson said. “But when a team is as aggressive as they are, you take that and you use it to your advantage.”

Perhaps the lone worry to come out of Sunday’s win was Iowa’s turnovers. The Hawkeyes coughed the ball up 23 times, which resulted in 11 points for the Redbirds. Logic had 6 of those miscues, mainly from trying to create plays that may not have been there.

Bluder knows it’s something the Hawkeyes need to fix before Wednesday’s semifinal against Middle Tennessee State.

“Middle Tennessee was in the NCAA Tournament last year, and we’re glad to have them at home,” the 13-year head coach said. “Sam just tried to push things a little too much tonight … Too many turnovers as a team, definitely.”

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