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Same old song and dance for Hawkeyes in loss to Nebraska

BY MATT CABEL | FEBRUARY 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Feb. 1 matchup against Nebraska could have been a big day for the Iowa women’s basketball program.

The team could have earned its first win over the Cornhuskers since Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2010. Head coach Lisa Bluder could have tied former-Iowa head coach Vivian Stringer’s all-time victory mark 269 at Iowa. 

But the Hawkeyes couldn’t get the monkey that is the Cornhuskers off their back once again.

“It’s kind of odd,” Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said. “Iowa is a very good basketball team, and they have been for three years … we’ve played good basketball against them. It’s just been one of those deals. For the vast majority of those games, they’ve been close. We’ve been able to win some close ones, but today wasn’t quite as close.”

Ultimately, it was a familiar story for the Hawkeyes in the loss: They kept the game close, but their opponent weathered every storm and turned it into a lead. It happened against Penn State, when the Nittany Lions depth beat the Hawkeyes. It happened against Michigan State, when the Spartans couldn’t miss and the Hawkeyes couldn’t hit.

There was Jordan Hooper, who finished with 25 points. There was Tear’a Laudermill, too, who finished with 26. There was a crowd of faithful Big Red fans who took up some 10 rows of section LL of Carver-Hawkeye. Their cheers of Go Big Red echoed almost dauntingly around a quiet arena as the Huskers went on a 14-0 run and extended its lead to 33-19, some five minutes after Iowa had knotted the game at 19. 

“I really don’t have a lot to say about our performance to begin this game,” Bluder said postgame. “I thought Nebraska played very well. I thought they ran the ball extremely well. We only had 11 turnovers, but they made us pay for the turnovers we did have, and that’s what good teams do.”

The matchup pitted Iowa, the highest scoring offense in the Big Ten against the conference’s best defense, which holds its opponents to 61 points per game. Defense prevailed. But Bluder said her team was taking shots that the Hawks don’t in practice, making field goals difficult to come by.

“That’s frustrating because you know 25 games into [the season], we should trust our offense,” Bluder said. “We should know that we are the No. 1 scoring team in the Big Ten for a reason and let it happen instead of trying to create stuff.”

Entering the second half, the Hawkeyes trailed the Huskers by 11 points. But Hooper, who went on a 7-0 run of her own and brought the Nebraska lead to 18, thwarted early comeback attempts. The Hawkeyes once again tried to come from behind but hit responses from the Huskers every single time. 

The Hawkeyes weren’t without spurts of strong basketball, particularly in the second half. Sam Logic tried everything in her power to earn her team the victory. She found her teammates underneath the basket for easy lay-ups. She got hot from downtown. She got the deficit down to 10 and once again flirted with a triple-double. 

But by then, it was too late. The shots didn’t fall, and the Huskers had all the answers on both ends of the floor, once again.

“You’re kind of hurting your team if you’re feeling good and you’re not taking shots,” Logic said. “Today they went in, mostly because [Nebraska] was so focused on Melissa {Dixon] shooting. They gave up a couple early to Theairra [Taylor], but you have to score somehow.”

It doesn’t get any easier for the Hawkeyes this late in the Big Ten season, either. A road rematch against Penn State is lurking, and Bluder and the Hawkeyes know that the squad is full of talent.

“We’ve played well on the road,” Bluder said. “We’ve played better on the road, actually, than we have at home, so hopefully, that will hold true.”


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