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Iowa Basketball: Two Minnesota natives guide Hawkeye women past Gophers

Iowa's lone senior Theairra Taylor scored a career-high 20 points and grabbed six rebounds as Iowa ended its small losing skid with a 78-71 win over Minnesota on Wednesday night.
University of Iowa

Theairra Taylor has proven that she has the ability to take over basketball games. She is quick, can shoot it and knows how to draw contact in the lane.

Unfortunately, sometimes she gets hidden behind her teammates when it comes to the spotlight.

Wednesday, though, was Taylor's night as the Minnesota native helped the Iowa women's basketball team beat the instate Gophers 78-71 with her career-high 20 points.

The Hawkeyes also got 19 points from another Minnesota native -- Bethany Doolittle -- as Iowa rallied from a halftime deficit with a late 16-4 run that gave the home team a double-digit lead.

The victory gave the Hawkeyes their first Big Ten Conference win of the season after Iowa had dropped its first two league games.

"I guess if there's one good thing about losing, it makes winning feel a whole lot better," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "That was a happy locker room. We needed to get back on the winning track, and I am really happy with the way we did it tonight."

Iowa improved to 9-1 at home. The Hawkeyes also beat Minnesota for the fifth time in six tries and the ninth time in 13 tries.

Minnesota natives Taylor and Doolittle did most of the damage for the Hawkeyes. Taylor's line also included six rebounds, while Doolittle was 9-of-10 from the line and also had six boards to go with her 19 points.

The Hawkeyes were 26-of-28 from the line in the game and that made up for a 34-26 disadvantage on the boards.

"We hit our free throws, which was important because we got there often and we needed to convert and we did," Bluder said. "I thought Theairra played a great game for us; maybe her best of the year."

Iowa trailed by three at the break despite making just one field goal in the final 4:37. Taylor made two free throws to give Iowa a 30-26 lead but her layup with 36 seconds to go in the half cut the Gophers' advantage to three.

Taylor scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half but no other Hawkeye had more than five.

"I thought it was huge," said Bluder of Taylor's effort in the first half. "I thought Thea did a great job attacking tonight. I'm just really happy for her because I thought she did a great job getting to the rim tonight and she hit a couple threes for us too."

Taylor's teammates would finally get going though in the second half. The Hawkeyes needed less than 2 minutes to tie the score and it stayed a back-and-forth battle until Iowa used a 16-4 run in the closing minutes to go up 71-59.

Dixon finished with 13 points in a supporting role of Taylor and Doolittle. Point guard Sam Logic added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and also pulled down eight boards and dished out eight assists. Ally Disterhoft got most of her points from the line as she finished with nine on the night.

All-Big Ten guard Rachel Banham was 12-of-22 from the floor and finished with 32 points for the Gophers. Amanda Zahui tallied 17 points and 15 rebounds.

"You know, Banham got a lot of points and she's going to get hers," Bluder said. "We talked about it as a team, kind of like they're a two person show. But we take great pride in our balance. We like that. We like that we're a balanced team. Those two are pretty darn good though. They're very good. I thought Rachel got hers, and that's going to happen."

Iowa's depth definitely was an advantage. Three Minnesota players fouled out in the game. The Gophers only brought eight to Iowa City and two of their bench players failed to log at least 10 minutes. Iowa's bench also outscored Minnesota's reserves 13-2.

Iowa 78, Minnesota 71

MINNESOTA (11-5, 0-2) - Riche 0-2 1-2 1, Zahui 8-14 1-1 17, Banham 12-22 4-4 32, Mullaney 1-6 2-2 4, Noga 5-10 0-0 15, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Hirt 1-5 0-2 2, Bailey 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 27-60 8-11 71.

IOWA (13-4, 1-2) - Peschel 1-1 0-0 2, Doolittle 5-10 9-10 19, Dixon 3-9 5-5 13, Logic 5-7 1-1 11, Taylor 7-9 4-4 20, Kastanek 0-1 2-2 2, Disterhoft 2-10 5-6 9, Till 1-2 0-0 2. TOTALS 24-49 26-28 78.

Halftime - Minnesota 35-32. 3-Point Goals - Minnesota 9-20 (Noga 5-10, Banham 4-8, Bailey 0-1, Mullaney 0-1), Iowa 4-14 (Taylor 2-3, Dixon 2-6, Kastanek 0-1, Disterhoft 0-4). Assists - Minnesota 13 (Riche 3, Banham 3), Iowa 13 (Logic 8). Steals - Minnesota 9 (Zahui 2, Mullaney 2, Noga 2), Iowa 8 (Logic 5). Total fouls - Minnesota 24, Iowa 11. Fouled out - Riche, Zahui, Mullaney. A-3,460.

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