Second-half collapse dooms Iowa women's hoops in Big Ten tournament

BY TORK MASON | MARCH 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Theairra Taylor pulled the Iowa women’s basketball team to within 1 point with 4:59 left in the first half of its second round game against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament, and the Hawkeyes looked ready to take the Cornhuskers to the wire.

But the Black and Gold collapsed over the final 24 minutes on March 8 and fell victim to Nebraska, 76-61, for the sixth time in two seasons.

The Cornhuskers closed out the first half on a 9-0 run, capped off by a 3-pointer with just 5 seconds remaining by Rachel Theriot. That gave Nebraska a 34-24 edge at the break, and the Hawkeyes never recovered. Iowa center Morgan Johnson said that run threw her team off balance and Nebraska took advantage.

“They hit one, and we kind of got back on our heels for a good 10 minutes, and when you’re down 10, you can’t do that,” Johnson said. “They continued to open up that lead a little bit there. We just really let up, and that’s what’s most disappointing.”

The Hawkeyes trailed by 27 points with 4:54 left in the game, before Taylor and Melissa Dixon keyed a 16-4 run to close the game and made the score appear respectable.

Nebraska outrebounded the Hawkeyes 44-30 and tallied 16 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points. The Cornhuskers also scored 38 points in the paint, a number Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder called “atrocious.”

Point guard Sam Logic said the willingness to adjust was lacking.

“It’s hard to box out in zones, but we’ve done it all year,” she said. “And it wasn’t just in zones, it was in man, too. It was just us refusing to. We just did not make a change, so it’s definitely on us.”

Bluder said she felt her players let their struggles on the floor affect them too much and it eventually led to more open looks for Nebraska shooters as the game wore on.

“I imagine it was a little bit of frustration,” shesaid. “I felt like our zone movements weren’t very good — especially to begin the second half, and that was unfortunate.”

The second-half offense wasn’t any better. Prior to Taylor and Dixon’s scoring spree, the Hawkeyes shot just 34 percent from the floor. They also didn’t shoot a free throw until 7:22 remained in the second half. Bluder said the way the game was officiated contributed to that — Nebraska had just two fouls in the first half.

“Nobody is that clean,” Bluder said. “Nobody is that clean in warm-ups. You can’t be that clean in a game; there’s no way.”

But Logic said the team had to look in the mirror to figure out what went wrong.

“We let our defense dictate our offense,” she said. “We played good defense for the first part of the shot clock, and then they’d get the offensive rebound. We did not box out at all today. And we turned the ball over. We just stayed stagnant a little too long.”

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