Fouls trouble the Hawkeye

BY JACOB SHEYKO | MARCH 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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INDIANAPOLIS — It was something that most Hawkeye fans had not seen.

With 4:43 remaining in the Big Ten Tournament championship game between Iowa and Nebraska, Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder was hit with a technical foul.

The call pretty much summed up Iowa’s 72-65 loss to the Cornhuskers, leaving the Hawkeyes winless against Nebraska since that school joined the Big Ten.

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“I stomped my foot. And that was why she told me I got my technical foul,” Bluder said. “Now, I stomp my foot at my kids, so it’s kind of a habit that I do all the time.

“I don’t remember the last one I had; seems like a crazy time to get one, and I take full responsibility for that. It was a bad time to get it.”

The majority of the whistles blown on Sunday were a result of Iowa fouls.

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When the buzzer sounded, Iowa had been called for twice as many fouls as the Cornhuskers — 26-13. More importantly, the Cornhuskers shot 36 free throws compared with the Hawkeyes’ 14 attempts.
Iowa’s first free throws of the game came with 2:14 remaining in the first half.

Foul trouble was the Achilles’ heel for the Hawkeyes all tournament long, but that wasn’t the case during the regular season, when they rarely went deep into the bench because of fouls.

“I wish I had an explanation for why now; that’s just what happens,” sophomore Claire Till said.

“You have to play with the cards you’re dealt, and sometimes those cards suck. But we learned a lot throughout this entire tournament.”

In the first 11 minutes of the game, the Hawkeyes fouled themselves into the bonus, giving Nebraska numerous trips to the charity strip.

Freshman Alexa Kastanek was out with a leg injury, making Iowa’s bench stretched even thinner than it typically is, and senior Theairra Taylor’s third foul with 9:39 remaining in the first half was even more devastating for Bluder.

Iowa’s bench played well. Sophomores Kathryn Reynolds and Kali Peschel stepped in and dug away at the Cornhusker lead, with Till also hitting a couple of big 3s, but Iowa needed its starters on the floor.

“That’s tough, obviously,” Sam Logic said. “Getting Theairra in foul trouble, Dixon in foul trouble. To even be in a game where Theairra plays 18 minutes, it’s huge. She’s been leading us this whole tournament.”

There are other reasons for Iowa’s loss, mainly that it was out-rebounded by the Cornhuskers, 58-27. But it’s hard to ignore the extra 22 attempts from the free-throw line for the Cornhuskers.

“We made free throws,” Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said when asked about the difference down the stretch. “We got stops, and we made a lot of free throws.”

Losses such as this one are often hard to move past, but if there’s a silver lining in this tournament for the Hawkeyes, it’s that they likely played their way into a higher seed when NCAA Tournament seeds are announced on March 17.

In Bluder’s opinion, the Hawks have played their way into a top-seed of the tournament.

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