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Iowa's team offense carries women to win over Michigan

BY KYLE MANN | JANUARY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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Equilibrium has been restored in Iowa City.

After a game in which the Iowa women’s basketball team had to defeat Michigan State while scoring only 52 points — 26 points below the team’s average — it dropped the Michigan Wolverines, 76-70, behind its typical impressive shooting Thursday night.

Sunday’s victory was the most impressive defensive and rebounding game of the season, and Iowa won despite shooting less than 33 percent from the floor. Thursday, life got flipped right side up.

It’s not that the game wasn’t physical. There were plenty of tie-ups on the ground, and even a stern talking to from referee Amy Bonner early in the second half. In fact, the Hawkeyes were beaten handily on the boards and struggled mightily to stop Michigan center Cyesha Goree, who finished with 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds.

But it was just one of those nights for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes started out 11-of-12 from the floor, resulting in a 24-16 lead nearing the midway point of the first half. They missed a few more times, but not many; the 36-32 advantage they held at the break was largely due to the team’s 60 percent (15-of-25) performance.

Freshman starting guard Whitney Jennings had a large hand in the hot start, knocking down two of the team’s three first half 3-pointers.

“Any time you see the ball go through the net it gives you a little bit more confidence for the rest of the game,” Jennings said. “They were doubling on Beth [Doolittle] early on and I found myself wide open and my teammates found me.”

They maintained that pace perfectly through the second half, finding themselves 30-of-50 as they approached the final buzzer. They finished the 76-70 victory with a 57-percent clip.

The Hawkeyes have had good shooting games before, but what stood out about this one was how they did it.

First, the ball movement was exactly as they draw it up on the board. On 31 made field goals, Iowa had 25 assists. Led by Sam Logic with 11 dimes alone, that’s 81 percent of the offense coming from good passing.

“Beth and Ally [Disterhoft] got some good boards and found me or Whitney [Jennings] in transition,” Logic said. “I think one time it went to four of us and didn’t touch the floor, and that’s just hard to guard.”

Yet, the points didn’t come in quite the same way as usual. Entering Thursday’s matchup, 37-percent of Iowa’s points from field goals came from 3-pointers. Against Michigan, that fell to just 25-percent.

Melissa Dixon, for example, is the nation’s leading three-point scorer, but 12 of her 16 points came inside the arc.

In a stretch of games where the Hawkeyes seem to be showing their versatility, head coach Lisa Bluder said they’re really just playing their game.

“We just got back to Iowa basketball. We were so low in assists against Michigan State, and that’s not us,” Bluder said. “We are a team that distributes, we’re are unselfish, and we got that done again today.

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


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