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Hawkeyes down Illinois, 69-55

BY JACOB SHEYKO | FEBRUARY 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa women’s basketball team is the top scoring team in the Big Ten. It’s not even close. Going into the Hawks’ matchup with Illinois, they averaged 80.1 points per game — nearly 5 points more than the second-best scoring team in the Big Ten.

That’s why the first half of Iowa’s 69-55 win over Illinois was so out of character for the Hawkeyes. They scored just 29 points, shot 37 percent from the floor, and turned the ball over 11 times.

But the Hawkeyes woke up in the second half, as did the typical Hawkeyes offense.

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“I think we were a little calmer,” junior Sam Logic said. “We didn’t knock down as many shots as we could in the first half … some of those [shots] went down in the second half, and that’s going to help.”

The Hawkeyes took the lead and stayed in the lead for the remainder of the game after a Theairra Taylor 3-pointer put Iowa ahead with 16:17 remaining in the first half. But the Hawkeyes were far from playing their best basketball of the season.

For a five-minute period in the first half, the Hawkeyes did not score a single point. But during this same period, with the help of a little defense and some poor Fighting Illini shooting, Illinois countered with just 4 points.

Most of Iowa’s troubles offensively in the first half were a result of Illinois zone defense and its full-court pressure. Illinois defenders were jumping in the passing lanes, and the Hawkeyes were turning the ball over with cross-court passes.

But Logic kept her cool and had no turnovers in the game, which she attributed to her familiarity with the zone.

“We kind of run that same defense,” she said. “I’ve been running it for a couple of years now. You just know a little bit of what they’re trying to do.”

Usually, the Hawkeyes’ shooting from long range can knock most teams out of their zone. But Iowa’s 4-of-18 shooting from downtown enabled Illinois to stay in the zone almost all game.

Usual sharpshooter Melissa Dixon was held scoreless in the first half on six attempts from 3-point range. But in the second half, she drained three treys.

“I will always encourage Melissa [to shoot],” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “She’s a great shooter. Sometimes they don’t go in for you.”

One of Iowa’s advantages over Illinois was in the paint. Even though Iowa is not the biggest team, the Hawkeyes didn’t just out-rebound Illinois 40-23, but they also outscored the Fighting Illini 36-10 in the paint.

“I think these guys did a great job of getting the ball inside,” Bluder said. “And when we got the ball inside, they were wide-open shots.”

While that aspect of the game may have been surprising, one area that brought no surprises was the continuation of Logic’s all-around play during the Big Ten season.

Fresh from being named Big Ten Player of the Week, she finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists.

The Racine, Wis., native also helped the Hawkeyes extend their lead in the second half with numerous instances of an Illinois turnover leading to a Hawkeye basket. The Hawkeyes turned in 12 fast-break points and 22 points on turnovers.

Iowa will play its third game in seven days on Feb. 16, when the Hawks will travel to Purdue to square off against the No. 23 Boilermakers. The Hawkeyes have won their last four Big Ten games on the road.

The Hawkeyes’ win also marks the eight time in Bluder’s career that her team has won 20 games in a season.

“I think it’s awesome,” Ally Disterhoft said. “It’s a goal we set at the beginning of the year. But moving forward, we obviously have to play some pretty good teams.”


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