Hawkeyes ride the grind to victory against Fighting Illini


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The grind is real, and the Iowa women’s basketball team’s Thursday night win over the Illinois Fighting Illini proved it. 

A win is a win, they say. They never have to be pretty. 

“You’re always going to take an ugly win over a pretty loss at this point of the season,” junior guard Sam Logic said. “Especially in Big Ten play, you’re always going to take a win.” 

It seemed like one of those nights when things didn’t quite go the Hawkeyes’ way. Blocking fouls that could have been called charges, fouls that could have been called jump balls, jump balls that could have been fouls.

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But Iowa weathered the storm, turned a 9-point halftime lead into a 14-point victory, and ground out its 20th win of the season, the eighth 20-win season for Iowa in head coach Lisa Bluder’s tenure.  

Iowa grabbed 9 offensive rebounds in the first half but was only able to convert that into three second-chance points. No Iowa player made it into double-digit scoring until the second half, when freshman Ally Disterhoft laid in the ball to give the Hawkeyes a 42-31 lead. The freshman finished the game with her second career double-double, 13 points and 10 rebounds. 

“A huge focus for our team this year is to improve the rebounding area,” Disterhoft said. “I think tonight, for us to come out and rebound like we did, I think we’re all really happy about that.” 

There was never any doubt what the outcome would be. The Hawkeyes opened the half on a 7-0 run and were shooting 41 percent from the field with 9:30 remaining in the game. The team still managed to lead the Illini — which was shooting 36 percent — by 13, 49-36. 

It’s a luxury of sorts a team can afford to have against a Big Ten bottom-feeder such as Illinois, who didn’t score a single point on 15 Iowa turnovers. Iowa also outscored the Fighting Illini in the paint by a wide margin, 36-10. 

“It was great momentum,” Bluder said about the Hawks’ start to the second half. “It let us be able to play without the stress of them being right there. It was a good momentum boost for us and took a little bit out of their sails at the same time.” 

And even despite some sloppy passes, missed jumpers, and turnovers, the game had its moments of beauty, too. 

One happened immediately after Bethany Doolittle won the tip: the center passed the ball to Melissa Dixon, who stood at the top of the key and found a wide-open TheairraTaylor for the game’s first two points. 

Taylor was again a highlight later in the first half, when Dixon found Taylor again cutting under the basket for a fast-break lay-up. Logic found Disterhoft streaking down the lane from half court for an easy lay-up for the freshman. 

The team’s ball movement in general was a thing of beauty; it just didn’t always results in the baskets that it should have. But that’s what good teams do: win games, no matter what it takes, no matter how well they played overall. 

“No, it wasn’t our best shooting night, especially in the first half,” Logic said. “We were actually pretty calm at halftime, just knowing that we were getting open shots and weren’t knocking them down … there wasn’t too much panic that we were going to grind it out.”

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