Jan. 29, 2014
By DARREN MILLER
MINNEAPOLIS -- Something strange happened Wednesday while the University of Iowa women's basketball team rolled to its third consecutive win.
That odd occurrence is that the Hawkeyes actually trailed Minnesota -- albeit briefly -- during a 64-56 victory at Williams Arena.
Iowa (17-5 overall, 5-3 Big Ten Conference) led wire-to-wire in its last three wins at Wisconsin and Ohio State and at home versus Indiana. Against the Gophers (13-9, 2-6), the Hawkeyes led all but 1-minute, 56-seconds in the second half and came out on top for a fifth time in the last six games.
Iowa was ahead by 18 points -- 63-45 -- with 2:06 remaining.
"I don't remember coming to Minnesota and having that situation ever before," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said of the late lopsided score. "It feels really good. I felt our team's defense was very good; our rebounding in the second half was good. It was such a great team performance."
UI junior Samantha Logic was two rebounds from a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, 10 assists, and eight boards.
Freshman Ally Disterhoft shared game-high scoring honors with 13 (she also had eight rebounds), and the Hawkeyes improved to 3-0 with her in the starting lineup. Iowa had two other players score in double figures -- Melissa Dixon with 11 and Bethany Doolittle with 10 -- and Theairra Taylor added nine points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
"We're one point away from having five players in double figures and I love the balance of our basketball team," Bluder said.
That is nothing new. Wednesday's game marked the 21st consecutive time Iowa has had at least three players score in double figures.
The Hawkeyes showed off their offense, but also did an impressive job holding the Big Ten's leading scorer in check. Minnesota's Rachel Banham entered the game averaging 22.8 points per game, but was limited to nine points and just one during the second half (0-of-5 from the field).
"Sam had the start on her (defensively) and we like to play a little zone, so we did that as well and mixed things up," Bluder said. "We talked about everyone being aware of where (Banham) is. I think she got a little frustrated out there."
Shayne Mullaney paced the Gophers with 13 points and seven assists.
Iowa shot 41.4 percent from the field and made seven 3-pointers for a third game in a row. Dixon had three from long range and Disterhoft added two. Doolittle blocked four shots, giving her 72 for the season and 150 for her career.
Iowa has been working hard to improve its rebounding margin and that paid off during the final 20 minutes at Minnesota. The Gophers owned a 10-rebound advantage at the break (25-15); by game's end, both teams had 40 rebounds and Iowa pulled down nine on the offensive end in the second half.
"We were more productive with our (offensive) rebounds than they were with theirs, and that's always good to see," Bluder said. "Our team is feeling good about itself right now."
Feeling good and coming home, where it is 10-2 this season. Up next is another important game against the neighbor to the west, Nebraska, which is also the biggest thorn in Iowa's side the past three seasons. Since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten, they own a 6-0 edge in the series, including three wins in 2013.
"We get them on our home court, although the road has been pretty good to us and we don't mind the road so much," Bluder said. "This is our last weekend game; I know we're going to have a tremendous crowd on hand and it's going to be a great game. We're looking forward to it."
Nebraska (14-5, 4-3) defeated Michigan, 84-51, on Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb.
Iowa and Nebraska tip off at 2 p.m. (CT) Saturday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.