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Hawkeyes contain dynamic duo

BY KYLE MANN | FEBRUARY 06, 2015 5:00 AM

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In her postgame press conference, Lisa Blunder played her cards close to the vest.

The No. 17 Hawkeyes hosted Ohio State on Thursday, tasked with the challenge of slowing down the nation’s leading scorer and the only pair of 20-point-per-game teammates. When the horn signaled the end of the Hawkeyes’ 73-65 victory, they realized they had done a better job than could have been hoped for.

Kelsey Mitchell (26 points per contest) was held to only 15, and Ameryst Alston (20.6 points per game) to only 11. When asked how she did it, Bluder replied with a smile.

“We play them again,” she said.

The Hawkeyes began the game with freshman Whitney Jennings tasked with guarding Ohio State’s wunderkind, the freshman Mitchell, which proved to be a smart move by Blunder in the early going.

Mitchell was held scoreless, allowing the Hawkeyes to establish a 15-10 lead and spark an Ohio State time-out. After the break, Melissa Dixon got to work and extended the lead to 18-10 with her first 3-pointer.

As the game went on, it became a team-wide effort to keep Mitchell in check as no team had this season.

“We just always had to know where she is at all times, especially in the zone. They do a really good job of moving her around … just trying to get her shots,” Sam Logic said. “So in the back line, we had to talk about where she is so Melissa, Whitney, Lex, and Christina all up top can track her and try to shade her a little bit.”

The Buckeye offense was noticeably disheveled early in the half, which led to a turnover and athletic transition lay-in by Jennings. This turned into a trend; Iowa had 9 points on seven Buckeye turnovers only shortly after the midway point.

Between the turnovers and Iowa’s stifling defense on Mitchell and Alston, the Hawkeyes began to blow the game open, and frustration boiled over on the Buckeye bench.

Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff was issued a technical with 9:15 remaining, and two Dixon free throws extended the lead to 32-12. Iowa held all the momentum, though curiously, the technical seemed to suck some of the air out. The Buckeyes went on a 12-4 run thereafter, closing the gap to 36-24 at the final media time-out of the half.

Ohio State continued its run and trailed only 37-29 at the two-minute mark. Iowa finished the half 1-of-12 but still managed to take a double-digit lead to the locker room, 41-29.

Jennings led with 10 points, while Bethany Doolittle had 9 points and 5 rebounds. The most important numbers, however, were Mitchell’s 4 and Alston’s 7.

Barely two minutes into the second half, Iowa regained its shooting stroke and had four starters in double figures. As a result, it was able to maintain a double-digit lead for the opening portion of the half. The lone starter in single digits, Logic, registered her 10th assist with 12:55 remaining to give her team a 53-41 advantage.

All of a sudden, however, Mitchell started making shots, and the gap was reduced to 55-54 near the nine-minute mark. After a Logic lay-up, Dixon dropped in another triple. Shortly after, Jennings hit a jumpt to keep Ohio State away, then Disterhoft scored a lay-up from yet another Logic dime.

Never relinquishing the lead, Iowa was back up, 69-60, with 1:30 remaining. It was smooth sailing from there, and Iowa finished the 73-65 victory.

Logic finished with 6 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds, while Doolittle had 19 points, 13 boards, and 5 blocks. Disterhoft led with 21 points, her fourth game in a row with at least 20 points.

“We’re happy we were able to defend our home court,” she said.

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


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