Two big efforts from seniors Morgan Johnson and Jaime Printy helped the Iowa women’s basketball team advance to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Conference Women’s Tournament on Thursday.
Johnson finished with 18 points and nine rebounds and Printy added 18 points and made 8-of-9 from the line as the Hawkeyes led by four at the break and beat Northwestern, 60-55, at the Sears Centre near Chicago.
“Very happy to come in here and get this win today,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
It was the second win over the Wildcats in less than a week. Iowa finished the regular season with a win over Northwestern on Sunday that helped the Hawkeyes lock up the No. 7 seed for the Big Ten Tournament.
The Hawkeyes also won their 20th game in a season for the seventh time under Bluder and the fifth time in the past six seasons.
Bethany Doolittle also finished in double figures with 10 points for Iowa, which is now 20-11 overall. Sophomore Samantha Logic dished out six assists and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Logic has now moved into 11th all-time at Iowa in career assists with 340.
The Hawkeyes shot 35 percent from the floor and made just 2-of-16 from long range but connected on 18-of-23 from the line.
“It was definitely important that we got into the bonus early in the second half because we are a pretty good free throw shooting team,” Printy said. “We like to take advantage of that. When we realized we were in the bonus, we just tried to attack the rim a little bit and tried to draw a couple fouls because those are easy points for us.”
Printy’s 8-of-9 performance from the line brought her season percentage to 92, which would set a single season record at Iowa. The current record for free throw percentage in a season is 89.4.
Iowa will next play second-seeded Nebraska in today’s quarterfinals beginning at 11:30 a.m. The Hawkeyes have not beaten the Cornhuskers since they officially joined the Big Ten Conference last year.
“Now that we have this first one out of the way, we are looking forward to playing Nebraska,” Printy said. “We haven’t beaten them yet but we will have a great opportunity to do so. We know it is going to be a tough game.”
It was a tough game with Northwestern early Thursday as the contest was tied at 12 with 10:46 to go in the half and Iowa only led 14-13 with 7:41 on the clock.
An 8-2 run gave the Hawks a cushion as the lead was extended to 28-17. Northwestern (14-16) closed the gap to just four at the break thanks to a 3-pointer from Kendall Hackney and two free throws by Karly Roser.
The Wildcats kept things interesting early in the second half until Iowa used a 7-0 spurt to push the advantage back to 11 points. A Printy 3 started the run and two free throws by Theairra Taylor closed it out.
Iowa’s lead hit its peak at 15 following two more freebies from Taylor with 3:34 to play. Thirteen of Iowa’s final 15 points were scored from the foul line and those makes came in the final 10 minutes of the game. The Hawkeyes were 15-for-20 from the charity stripe in the second half.
Hackney led the Wildcats with 13 points, while Roser had 11. Dannielle Diamant scored eight points but also grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds in the loss. Roser also dished out six assists.
“This was a tough game and due respect to Iowa for sure,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. “We have nothing to be ashamed of though.”
Hackney admitted that her team paid extra special attention to Melissa Dixon, who was coming off a 21-point effort against the Wildcats on Sunday.
“It is always tough to play the same team twice in the same week,” Hackney said. “Dixon got hot again in the last game. We really focused on stopping her, and we did, but we let the post play kind of field their team today.”
Iowa will play Nebraska for the third time in a little more than three weeks but that is not necessarily a good thing to Bluder.
“For us coaches, it is less scouting,” she said. “The players know the teams a little bit better, but it is the same for both teams, so that is a wash in my opinion. They probably have a little more confidence coming because they have beaten us twice. But for us, we get to use the revenge factor.”