Hawkeye women can't keep up with Illini

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Fresh off its first top-25 ranking of the season, the No. 25 Iowa women’s basketball team (16-6, 5-3 Big Ten) traveled to Urbana, Ill., to take on the University of Illinois (12-8, 5-3).

The Hawkeyes proved that ranking is just a number, though, as Iowa fell to the fighting Illini, 74-62.
Iowa trailed by just 3 going into the locker room at halftime — the first half alone saw five lead changes, and the Hawkeyes squad cut a 10-point deficit to the aforementioned 3.

By the end of the game, Iowa and Illinois had traded leads in the contest 13 times.

“It was great to get this one after we had lost three close games at home,” Illinois head coach Matt Bollant said in release after the game. “We showed a lot of grit and a lot of toughness … We had to force some turnovers and play with toughness and, fortunately, we did.”

Iowa’s Sam Logic was the first to draw blood with a mid-range jumper after getting the rebound from teammate Morgan Johnson. After trading baskets for the majority of the first half, Illinois went on a 17-1 run to put Iowa down 31-21 with five minutes to play in the first half.

Iowa went on a run of its own, though, scoring 8 unanswered points to cut the lead by two. After a foul by Johnson, Illinois’ Alexis Smith made one of her two free throws to make the score 34-31 at the half.

The second frame saw a seesaw battle similar to the first half, but eventually Illinois was able to pull away from the Hawkeyes, thanks in large part to its blistering 3-point percentage of 45.8, going 11-of-24 from beyond the arc.

“I think Illinois played a very good game today,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said after the game in a release.  “They shot the heck out of the ball from the 3-point range; great game by them. They’re playing really well. They have really good athletes.”

Illinois didn’t deviate much from its starting lineup — only two players, Taylor Tuck, and McKenzie Piper, came off the bench for the Orange and Blue. Four of Illinois’ starters scored at least 14 points, perhaps too much to handle for an Iowa squad that looks largely to its bench for success.

Jaime Printy and Logic led the way in scoring for Iowa, each notching 13. Melissa Dixon was the only other Hawkeye to reach double digits, scoring 11 off the bench. The turnover bug also largely hampered Iowa, as the Black and Gold got their pockets picked 27 times throughout Thursday’s contest.

Before the game against Illinois, Printy said that her squad’s new ranking could potentially add extra incentive for other opponents to upset her Iowa squad.

“We have to realize that it’s just number, and it puts that target on our back,” she said in a release. “Everyone is going to come even more ready to play against us.”

Iowa will attempt to rebound Feb. 3, when it will play host to a tough Northwestern squad.

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