The Iowa defense was far from super on Sunday, and the 24th-ranked Hawkeyes let a 15-point second half lead disappear in a costly 67-65 loss to Northwestern.
It was the Wildcats’ first win in Iowa City since 1995.
“That game really hurt a lot,” said sophomore Melissa Dixon, who made six 3-pointers and led Iowa with 21 points off the bench. “It just hurt.”
Dixon made a jumper as the clock wound down to tie the game 65-65. But Karly Roser cut through the Hawkeye defense for the game-winner.
The ball went through the hoop as the scoreboard turned red.
“I feel like our help-side defense was pretty nonexistent today,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We had some defensive lapses.”
Northwestern (11-11, 3-6) shot just 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) in the first half, but shot 19-of-32 (59.4 percent) in the second half.
“The second half we got the ball to people in better spots,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. “We tried to be more patient and reverse the ball. We spread the floor a little better and just made better decisions.”
Iowa (16-7, 5-4) only gave up 18 points in the first half and led 29-18. The Hawkeyes were up 42-27 when things started to fall apart.
Sophomore point guard Sam Logic picked up a technical foul with 14:41 to play during an 8-1 Wildcat run.
Then Iowa senior center Morgan Johnson fouled out with 8:47 to play.
“I felt we were still OK,” Bluder said. “We have a lead and we are on our home court.”
That might have been the case if the Iowa offense was firing on all cylinders. It wasn’t.
Iowa shot just 32.8 percent (20-of-61) for the game. The five starters shot just 26.7 percent (12-of-45).
“We had 12 field goals between our starters,” Bluder said. “You know, that’s not very good.
“If we are not working together, the offense doesn’t work and we need to get back to that.”
Iowa was forcing some bad shots. Meanwhile, nine Wildcat field goals in the final 15 minutes came from point blank shots.
But McKeown thought 3-pointers — two by Kendall Hackney, each time after a Dixon three, and one by Maggie Lyon, after a Printy basket — kept Iowa from gaining momentum.
“That really helped us more than anything else,” McKeown said. “That kept us within striking distance.”
Dixon looked like she might bury Northwestern all by herself in the first half. She had four 3-pointers during a 14-0 run.
“My teammates did a good job of driving and drawing,” Dixon said. “I was pretty wide open on a couple of them. And after the first couple, that gave me confidence that the next one was going in.”
Dixon tied a career-high with six 3-pointers and finished with 21 points. Printy had 12 points — including 8-of-8 from the foul line, and Logic had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Johnson, who played just 18 minutes due to foul problems, had 11 points. Bethany Doolittle had nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
“It’s really weird to have five experienced starters in there, I just think right now our offense should be clicking,” Bluder said. “We should be looking so good. We’ve regressed. Our offense is not near as good as it was earlier in the year. We’re just not working together, not getting good shots.”
The loss is the second of the week for Iowa, which landed in the rankings for the first time in two years on Monday.
“Basketball has its ups and downs,” Printy said. “We’re going to try and bounce back from this. We can’t focus too much on the negatives.”
Iowa goes back on the road with a trip to Minnesota on Thursday and hosts Nebraska on Feb. 11.
And suddenly the Hawkeyes, who host an NCAA Regional in March, may need to scramble a bit in February.
“So we have dug ourselves a big hole, that’s for certain,” Bluder said. “And you look at who we have left, it’s a tough schedule ahead of us. So we have put the pressure back on ourselves, so to speak.”
While Iowa has started February with a loss, it has been a good month for the Hawkeyes in the past. Iowa was 7-0 in February last season and a combined 30-7 over the past five years under Bluder. Each of those seasons ended in the NCAA Tournament.
“We had a huge let-up,” Printy said. “We can’t do that.
“We have some tough games coming up. We have to play better than we are.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball