Feb. 10, 2014
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It was a matter of time, University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said of her quest for milestone victory No. 270 leading the Hawkeyes.
And on a record-setting Monday, it took all 40 minutes before Iowa sealed a 90-84 win over pesky Northwestern on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win was the 19th of the season for Iowa and the one that allowed Bluder to pass C. Vivian Stringer as the winningest basketball coach in school history. Now in her 14th season with the Hawkeyes, Bluder is 270-163 (.624).
"We were going to get it, right? It was just a matter of time," Bluder said. "We just wanted it sooner rather than later, so there was no wait at all."
The Hawkeyes (19-6 overall, 7-4 Big Ten Conference) have won two in a row and seven of their last nine. Northwestern -- which owns wins against Purdue and Nebraska this season -- is 14-10, 4-7.
UI junior Melissa Dixon found her eye from outside, making 6-of-9 3-point field goals to finish with 24 points. It was her most productive game from long range since making 6-of-11 against Idaho State on Dec. 7.
"I have to credit my teammates, they did a good job of moving the ball around and setting good screens off our set plays and out-of-bounds," Dixon said.
Samantha Logic was two rebounds shy of a second consecutive triple-double. She scored 20 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds. The Hawkeyes also received double-digit scoring from Theairra Taylor (16), Bethany Doolittle (14, three blocked shots) and Ally Disterhoft (11, nine rebounds).
"I'm thrilled at the five players in double figures and that we out rebounded them (41-34)," Bluder said. "We scored very well tonight. Our defense obviously has a little to be desired, but at the same time we did what it takes to win, and that's the most important thing. We've got this important week off to a good start."
One of the biggest buckets Monday came from Doolittle, when her jumper lifted Iowa to a 64-63 lead with 9:12 remaining. That stopped a 10-0 run by the Wildcats that gave Northwestern its only lead of the second half and sent the Hawkeyes on a 10-2 run of their own to go up, 74-65. Two made free throws by Logic with 52.4 seconds left gave Iowa an 88-78 lead, but the Wildcats clawed to within four points with 15 seconds to go.
"That's where we have grown," Logic said. "Earlier in the season we would have got down on ourselves and let that affect our offense. We answered and went on a run of our own. It's resiliency. (Northwestern has a) a good team, they're feisty, and they are going to make runs. You have to be ready to fight."
By making 33-of-64 field goals (51.6 percent), the Hawkeyes shot better than 50 percent from the field for the second game in a row and the third time in their last five outings. Logic was 6-of-8 from the field and Dixon was 7-of-11.
Northwestern was led by Nia Coffey's 29-point, 10-rebound performance. Reserve forward Lauren Douglas added 25 points, which titled bench scoring heavily in favor of the Wildcats, 29-5.
After the game, Bluder was saluted at midcourt by UI director of athletics Gary Barta, who presented her a ceremonial game ball. Moments later, a video highlight was played that included congratulatory messages from former player Lindsey Meder (1998-2002), UI head football coach Kirk Ferentz, and Stringer, who is now head coach at Rutgers. From 1983-95, Stringer accumulated a record of 269-84 as head coach of the Hawkeyes.
"The whole thing was a surprise, but you know, Vivian is such a great coach; she's a Hall of Famer," Bluder said. "She's a person that got this program started in the right direction, and I'm glad that we have a friendship. I'm glad that we share some similar experiences. We both sat in that seat for a lot of years, and we both love this place immensely."
Bluder was originally hired to a five-year contract by Dr. Christine Grant in 2000. Since 2006, Barta has been leading the department.
"We're celebrating a milestone because (Bluder) set an incredible record," Barta said. "This is my eighth year, and to watch her leadership far before the record was a thought -- just her ability to lead all the women. She buys into our slogan: Win, Graduate, Do it the Right Way. She is an amazing leader."
The Hawkeyes remain home Thursday to face the Illini (9-15, 2-9) on a game televised by BTN. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. (CT). Iowa is 11-3 this season in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.