Iowa finds a way to beat Colorado


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In October, during Big Ten media day in Chicago, Lisa Bluder talked about how her team was probably never going to win any tight defensive battles.

At the time, it didn’t seem like an unreasonable thing to say. After all, the Hawkeyes play a fast-paced, up-tempo style of offense that, by its very nature, leads to high-scoring games by both teams.

In a 78-63 win over Colorado on Sunday, there was little doubt about Iowa’s ability to take over games.

“We really got it handed to us [Dec. 4] against Louisville, so I was glad to see us come out and bounce back the way we did,” Bluder said. “I thought we were in control for most of the game.”  

The contest was as physical a game as the Black and Gold have played in so far this season. Out-muscled and out-worked down low, the Hawks had no answer for Colorado in the paint.

The Buffoloes controlled majority of the rebounds, 17-7, just 10 minutes into the first half, a trend continued the rest of the afternoon.  

Colorado finished with a plus-17 rebound margin — and while normally a situation such as that would spell almost-certain doom for the Hawkeyes, they did what they failed to do against Louisville: They found a way to win. 

Instead of trying to go toe-to-toe with a physically superior team in the paint, Bluder’s Hawkeyes spread the court, allowing them to work the perimeter, fill open passing lanes, and find shooters with space.

The combination worked well in the end, as the Hawkeyes put up 78 points against a sound defensive squad. 

“I think it just shows you what kind of team you have when they put together a game like this,” Bluder said. “It shows what kind of leadership you have, and I thought our seniors have done a great job getting everyone refocused.”

Melissa Dixon was the straw that stirred the drink for the Black and Gold Sunday afternoon. The senior scored 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting — including 5-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Far and away the game’s best player, Dixon was there all game for the Hawks, providing a spark almost every time she touched the ball.

“Our focus today was just to really take it to Colorado, and I think we were really focused on doing that,” she said. “I felt like we really controlled the game well.”

The Black and Gold finished 26 of a staggering 62 from the floor. 

The Hawks made the most of every bit of open space they could get and let their skill take it from there. 

For them, that’s all the confidence they could ask for.

“I think this does a lot for our confidence as a team right now,” senior Bethany Doolittle said. “Just to know that we can come back from a bad game and follow it up like this is a good feeling.”

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for updates, news, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.

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