Iowa women's hoops escapes first round with a win over Northwestern

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. —The Iowa women’s basketball team played a sloppy game against Northwestern on Thursday, but it did just enough to win, 60-55, advancing to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

The Hawkeyes battled the turnover bug for much of the game, including a six-minute stretch during the first half in which the Black and Gold gave the ball away six times. Iowa coughed it up 16 times in the game, and senior guard Jaime Printy said the team needed to refocus on ball security.

“[The Wildcats] were being physical, but at the same time it’s kind of our fault,” Printy said. “We need to take care of the ball a little better. And Coach Bluder stressed it at halftime, being composed and being strong with the ball because they’re a physical team, and I think we did a much better job in the second half.”

The Hawkeyes seemed to find their groove midway through the first half, when they stopped settling for 3-pointers and took higher-percentage shots. Iowa shot 1-for-12 from behind the arc in the first half but built an 11-point lead on the efforts of Morgan Johnson and Bethany Doolittle, who combined for 16 of the Hawkeyes’ 30 first half points.

But after shooting nearly 42 percent from the field in the first half, Iowa couldn’t buy a basket for much of the second half — the Hawkeyes shot just 27 percent in the final frame — and had to rely on free throws to keep the Wildcats at bay. They got into the bonus with nearly 10 minutes remaining, and Printy said that was a major factor in the outcome.

“We are a pretty good free-throw-shooting team, so we like to take advantage of that,” said Printy, who finished with a game-high 18 points and hit 7-of-8 free throws. “When we realized that we were in the bonus, we attacked the rim a little bit and tried to draw a couple fouls because those are some easy points for us.”

The Hawkeyes all but shut down Northwestern’s star freshman Maggie Lyon, who hit just two shots all afternoon and finished just 7 points after averaging nearly 13 points per game this season. Sam Logic said Lyon was a focal point for the Hawkeye defense.

“You just have to contest everything, make everything tough,” Logic said. “Maggie's a really good player, and you've just got to contest everything she gets.”

Iowa also dominated the glass at times. The Hawkeyes collected 41 rebounds in the contest, including 9 by Johnson, who moved up to fourth all-time in Iowa history in career boards. The senior said rebounding was a point of emphasis this week as the team prepared for the Wildcats.

“Knowing they’re a good boarding team, and coming in with that mindset that we have to get every single board, and we just did an overall good job being scrappy in general and that included the boards,” said Johnson, who also finished with 18 points.

The cleanup crew was led by Logic, who posted 11 boards — including 4 offensive rebounds. Head coach Lisa Bluder said she wasn’t surprised by Logic’s performance at all.

“[Logic is] such a versatile point guard,” Bluder said. “And she does so many things for us on the floor that sometimes point guards don’t do. But it’s pretty unusual, I think, when you have a point guard that leads your team in rebounds at times.”

Hawkeyes to face Nebraska

The win over the Wildcats propels Iowa to the second round of the tourney, where it will face No. 21 Nebraska, a squad Iowa has yet to beat since the Huskers joined forces with Big Ten country.

Iowa lost by just 1 in its fist outing with the Huskers this year, losing 76-75 in carver-Hawkeye on Feb. 11. The next contest wasn’t close, though; Nebraska torched Iowa 66-46 on Feb. 24 in Lincoln.

The two squads will face off at 11:30 today in the Sears Center. The winner will advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten championship, playing the winner of Wisconsin/Purdue.

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