IOWA CITY, Ia. –On senior night, with the future of the season hanging in the balance, junior guard Melissa Dixon came off the bench and led Iowa to a 75-70 come-from-behind win over Indiana on Thursday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Indiana (11-17, 2-13) used incredible 3-point shooting to build up an 18-point lead in the first half against Iowa (18-11, 7-8) before Dixon came into the game and caught fire.
“She continues to stake the claim to be sixth man of the year,” Indiana coach Curt Miller said. “She’s such an offensive weapon. She’s got the quickest release in the league, and you’ve got to guard her every possession.”
Miller tried to recruit Dixon when he was coaching at Bowling Green, and he’s still upset she chose to take a grayshirt at Iowa instead.
“As a coaching staff, we have always been huge fans (of Dixon),” Miller said. “If she misses one or two … she thinks she’s going to make the next five.”
Dixon finished with a team-high 22 points, one off her career-high. She hit 4-of-9 from the arc.
Dixon’s effort helped counter a career night for Indiana senior Aulani Sinclair.
Sinclair finished with 31 points, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range.
Dixon, however, did her best work when things looked the bleakest for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s such a great feeling to have a spark off the bench like that,” Iowa senior Jaime Printy said. “And Dixon, when she gets hot, she gets hot.
“As a team, when we know she’s hitting, we try to get her the ball. She has the confidence to knock those shots down. She was a huge spark and big reason why we were able to come back in this game.”
A loss to Indiana, whose RPI is at 175, may have put a nearly insurmountable dent into the Hawkeyes’ NCAA Tournament hopes. Iowa closes the regular season Sunday at Northwestern and travels to the Big Ten Tournament next week.
Indiana hit seven 3-pointers — some from way downtown, many with hands in their faces — to build that 36-18 lead with 6:16 before halftime.
“Down 18 in the first half, it didn’t look so good,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We didn’t panic.”
The senior leadership from seniors Printy, Morgan Johnson and Trisha Nesbitt kept the game from spiraling out of control
“We got down 18, we put a stake in the ground and said no more,” Johnson said. “We just focused on the next stop; the next offensive play.
“I think we’re a team that perseveres. We continually push through and never quit.”
Indiana led 44-34 at halftime (and came to Iowa City with a 12-0 record when leading at the half).
The Hawkeyes changed their defensive intensity, changed how they were switching off screens and forced 12 second-half turnovers that led to 14 points. Offensively, Iowa shot 14-of-23 (60.9 percent) in the second half.
“We didn’t dig in and get enough stops in the second half,” Miller said. “To their credit, they shot 61 percent in the second half. Credit their seniors for making plays down the stretch. You expect your seniors to make big plays down the stretch.”
Iowa tied the game at 60-60 with a pair of free throws by Johnson. Dixon then gave Iowa its first lead of the game with 5:20 to play.
Printy had a big 3-pointer after an Indiana time out.
Johnson then had two big baseline buckets in the final minutes to keep the Hoosiers at bay.
“I’m proud of how we fought, handled the situation and kept our composure and came back,” Printy said. “I think we knew what was on the line.”
Printy finished with 14 points and six assists. Johnson had 17 points and nine rebounds. Taylor added 11 points.
Logic had eight assists and tied the single-season assist record (191), held by Cara Conseugra.
Bluder agreed with Coach Miller that Dixon is the Big Ten Sixth Player of the Year.
“You would have to be silly not to vote her,” Bluder said. “To me, it’s a lock in. But even if she doesn’t get it we know she is. She’s deserving of it. We know Melissa is the best sixth player in the conference.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball