Iowa puts brick on gas pedal and throttles Illinois, 81-56

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

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Iowa women’s basketball team wanted to end the regular season on a high note with wins in its last three games. The team also wanted to do whatever it could to earn the fourth seed in this week’s Big Ten tournament. 

By the time the team had tipped off Sunday afternoon in the State Farm Center, its seeding fate had been decided. But whether the team knew that or not, they gave no mercy to Illinois and ended the season on a three-game winning streak with its 81-56 victory, its 23rd of the season. 

“You just want motivation, you want momentum going into Thursday,” Sam Logic said. “… Our game plan was just to execute against that defense; they wanted to [make us] turn the ball over. That’s what they’re good at they’re really good at running their defense. You just have to stay composed.” 

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Guard Theairra Taylor picked up Sunday’s game right where she left off on Senior Night Feb. 27, scoring 17 points, 13 of which came in the first half alone, and also contributed 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 5 steals.

“I’ve just been a little more aggressive, especially on defense,” Taylor said. “That’s been leading to some fast break opportunities.”

Head coach Lisa Bluder isn’t surprised with Taylor’s play — she said that her senior plays her best basketball at the end of the year. 

“She’s been way more aggressive, and we love that — she should be,” Logic said. “… Her mentality is attacking, and that’s huge for us, because she’s so hard to guard … she’s just been fantastic.” 

Logic became the all-time leading passing guard in program history, tallying 577 assists in only three years. Logic finished the game with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals.

But for Logic, the personal accomplishment doesn’t mean much — the guard took the attention to her teammates immediately. 

“My teammates knock down shots,” Logic said. “… That’s how you get them. The balls in my hand a lot, that’s how it kind of happens.” 

The Hawkeyes opened the game on a 22-11 run thanks to well-rounded contributions from its startling lineup, and, after briefly falling behind at 4-3, took the reins and never looked back. 

The team entered the second half with an 18-point lead it needed to maintain after letting a 20-point lead slip away in its loss to Purdue. But the Hawkeyes never took their feet off the gas, jumping out to as much as a 35 point lead with 9:40 still remaining in the game. 

It was evident from the tip that Iowa wanted to enter is postseason run riding momentum. Sunday’s win confirmed that was the case. For the first time all season, Bluder was able to put in a lineup entirely of her bench to end the game, and the Hawkeyes are playing the best basketball they have all season. 

“Any given night, you have to be ready,” Logic said about making a run in the conference tournament. “Honestly, any team in the Big Ten can win the tournament, anything can happen in four days, especially when you’re playing back to back to back. You just have to take it one at a time and compete every single second.”

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