It was just your average game for the 23rd ranked Iowa women’s basketball team.
The Hawkeyes have had three or more players score in double-figures in 30 straight games coming into the Big Ten Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinals and that number hit five against 16th ranked Purdue on Friday.
Despite early foul trouble and some minor injuries, Iowa still found a way to advance against the Boilermakers. Theairra Taylor scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half and Bethany Doolittle tallied all 16 of her points in the final 20 minutes as the Hawkeyes rallied from seven down in the second half to beat Purdue, 87-80, thanks to 32 points off 20 Purdue turnovers.
Melissa Dixon also scored a team-high 18 points and Samantha Logic added her 11th double-double of the season and 23rd of her career with 12 points, 10 assists and five rebounds as the Hawkeyes will play in the tournament semifinals for the first time since 2010. Freshman Ally Disterhoft was the fifth Hawkeye in double-figures with 12 points and she also grabbed eight rebounds.
“We really feel good about this game,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “Coming from behind, battling foul trouble in the first half and beating a very, very good basketball team, just makes us feel real good. We have a lot of respect for the Purdue program, for (coach) Sharon (Versyp) and for Courtney Moses.”
Moses scored a game-high 24 points in the game but needed 16 shots to get there. Whitney Bays also had her sixth career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Liza Clemons chipped in 14 points and eight boards. But this was the fourth win for Iowa over Purdue in the last five meetings. The one loss was a one-point defeat to the Boilermakers in the only regular season meeting this year.
“That was a great basketball game,” Versyp said. “Iowa is obviously a very good basketball team and we knew it was going to be a battle. We pretty much have the same record. This one could have gone either way.”
That was evident by the fact that there were nine ties and 13 lead changes. Iowa’s largest lead was nine late in the second half but Purdue blew a nine-point advantage in the first half and held a seven-point lead with 12 minutes to go in the game.
But Iowa fought through some early foul trouble to Logic, Doolittle and Dixon and in-game injuries to Disterhoft and its sixth player Claire Till and prevailed – mainly because of the 32 points off turnovers, the 40 points in the paint and the 22-of-24 performance from the free-throw line.
Disterhoft missed her first nine shots from the floor but went 8-of-10 from the line to get to double-digits, while Dixon was 5-of-14 from the field but 6-of-6 from the line.
“The first half for me was obviously a little rough, but my coaches and teammates just kept encouraging throughout halftime and the second half. We believe in each other so much and when you have a group of girls that believe in each other that much, you can do pretty good things, and I think that’s what we did here today.”
There were seven ties in the first 14 minutes of the game as neither team could pull away from the other. Purdue changed that though with a 7-0 run and grabbed a nine-point lead following a Moses layup. Iowa quickly got back within five after a Logic layup and two free throws from Kali Peschel. Moses pushed it back to seven with another layup, but the Boilermakers led by just four at the break when Taylor buried a triple and scored her 13th point to make it 39-35 at intermission.
Purdue (21-8) led by seven with 12:15 to play in the game, but Iowa once again never quit. A Dixon trey made it a four-point game with 11:21 to go and then a 3-point play from Logic trimmed the Iowa deficit to one. The advantage shifted back and forth for a few minutes after that but the Boilermakers used a 7-0 run to go back up six with 6 minutes left in the game.
From that point on though Iowa grabbed control and never looked back. Disterhoft was the main catalyst as her four consecutive free throws made it a one-point game and then her first bucket of the game gave Iowa the lead.
It stayed a one-point advantage until the 2-minute mark of the game. The Hawkeyes then scored eight straight – two points from four different players – to go up nine. Hayden Hamby buried two consecutive triples to get Purdue back to within five, but Iowa claimed the win after hitting four straight shots from the line in the final 21 seconds.
Iowa buried 12-of-14 from the line in the final 4 minutes and had 18 assists in the win. Purdue was just 13-of-15 in the entire game from the line.
“We could have easily folded when we got down by seven, but we kept our composure and stayed focus,” said Logic, who had 22 assists in the two meetings against Purdue this year. “We just distributed the ball well today. You just don’t know who the ball is going to go to. Anyone on this team can make a play and we had a couple of different people today at some point make huge plays, and that’s what we feed off of.”
Purdue lost a game in which it led at halftime for just the fifth time in 19 games this season. The Boilermakers also lost for just the 12th time in 234 games when they scored 80 or more points.
“We weren’t playing any defense there late in the game,” said Versyp. “They were just driving right past us and then we just tried to be a swat machine.”
The Hawkeyes (25-7) will look to continue their march to become the first-ever women’s team to win four games in four days at the conference tournament. Iowa is now 5-0 on a neutral court this year and 12-0 when playing on the Big Ten Network.
Next up is eighth-seeded Ohio State, who knocked off top-seeded and nationally ranked Penn State in the quarterfinal opener. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.