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Surprises help Iowa women sink Cyclones

BY KYLE MANN | DECEMBER 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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There’s one game every year that means a little something more to the Hawkeyes.

The women’s basketball team played that game on Thursday night, and something had clearly gotten into them. Iowa defeated cross-state rival Iowa State, 76-67, in what had to have been the team’s most complete effort so far this season.

Iowa entered the season with three seniors who would be the unquestioned cornerstones of 2014: Sam Logic, Bethany Doolittle, and Melissa Dixon. Thursday’s victory was largely to the credit of everybody else.

Doolittle had only 8 points and 3 rebounds and was generally out-of-whack on the night because of foul trouble. Dixon finished with 9 points, but wasn’t as effective shooting the ball as she usually has been. Logic played well, finishing with 9 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds but similarly, wasn’t quite the show-stopper she can be known to be.

On this night, sophomore Ally Disterhoft led the charge, aided primarily by of Whitney Jennings and Kali Peschel.

Disterhoft had a team-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. She was quietly the box score MVP, but Jennings and Peschel made the difference. Head coach Lisa Bluder praised them accordingly after the game.

“Whitney Jennings has 2 steals and goes 3-for-4 from the free-throw line in the last one minute of play,” Bluder said. “Kali Peschel came in and played great for us. Five offensive rebounds, 3-for-4 shooting [from 3], perfect from the line.”

The undersized Jennings had a gargantuan effect in the closing minutes, andshe also provided the team with a much-needed spark for several stretches of her 25 minutes.

The 5-5 freshman sank only one 3-pointer on the night, so the majority of her 15 points came from inside the paint and attacking the basket. She had one particular basket in the first half driving down the right side of the lane, colliding hard with a waiting Cyclone defender, and banking the shot in through the foul.

She missed the free throw, but converted the and-one that came a few minutes later after a fancy dipsy-do finger roll driving left down the baseline.

She wowed the crowd offensively, but Bluder was most appreciative of her defense, particularly in that final minute. Jennings gathered 3 steals and said her inspired play was directly a result of the rivalry game.

“I knew how big of a game this was coming in here,” Jennings said. “I just knew we wanted to get it done for the seniors and for the Iowa people.”

After Jennings had her spurt, Peschel brought the fireworks. Entering the night with two made 3s all season, she sank one with three minutes remaining in the first half. And then she surprised everybody by making another with 37 seconds before the half to put the team up, 44-35, heading to the locker room.

Iowa held the lead for 38 of the 40 minutes in the game, and that includes most of the second half. When Iowa State threatened down the stretch, however, it cut the lead to 64-60 and tension was growing in Carver-Hawkeye.

That’s when Peschel nailed another 3 in the corner that proved to be the proverbial nail in the coffin, and Iowa State never completed the comeback.

Peschel was the night’s clutch performer, but as is characteristic of this team, she insisted they did it together.

“I thought my teammates gave me a great opportunity to take the shots that I had tonight,” she said. “It was nice to return the favor, and make it for them, and give them the assist.”

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


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