HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — In getting its 20th win of the season Thursday, the Iowa women are set for a steeper challenge to get No. 21.
A 60-55 victory against Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament sent the Hawkeyes (20-11) into today’s quarterfinals and a matchup with second-seeded Nebraska (22-7).
Iowa, seeded seventh, is 0-5 against the Cornhuskers since they joined the Big Ten last season.
“In my career, I’ve never gotten to beat Nebraska,” Iowa senior Morgan Johnson said. “That’s a little unsettling for me. We’re geared up for that game.”
Nebraska beat Iowa 76-75 on Feb. 11 in Iowa City and 66-46 on Feb. 24 in Lincoln, Neb.
And going back to last March, Nebraska was the team that knocked Iowa out of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament.
“You’re not a good competitor if it doesn’t get under your skin a little bit,” sophomore Sam Logic said. “We’ll go out and have fun. It’ll be a good one.”
First things first, the Hawkeyes had to take care of Northwestern (13-17), a team they had beaten four days earlier 62-45 in Evanston, Ill.
“We liked the outcome of that game,” junior Theairra Taylor said. “But we knew they were going to adjust.”
Iowa continued its trend of hammering the Wildcats with defense early.
“We just know we’re better as a team when our defense is setting the tone,” Logic said. “We had a lot of good weakside help; we got steals and (got) our transition game going a little bit.”
Iowa never trailed, but had an 11-point lead shrink to 30-26 at halftime.
The Hawkeyes finally created some separation when senior Jaime Printy hit a 3-pointer, Logic drew a charge on one end and converted in the lane on the other, and Taylor hit both ends of a 1-and-1. That made it 45-34 with under 10 minutes left.
Iowa salted the game away with free throws, going 15-of-20 in the second half.
“We are a pretty good free-throw shooting team,” Printy said. “So we like to take advantage of that.”
Printy was 8-of-9 at the line and finished with 18 points for Iowa. Johnson also had 18 points to go with nine rebounds and four steals. Taylor had eight points and a career-high five blocked shots. Logic had six points, six assists and 11 rebounds.
Iowa held Big Ten freshman of the year Maggie Lyon to seven points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“We just came out and made a really big effort defensively,” Taylor said. “That’s what is going to get us to the finals.”
The Hawkeyes didn’t feel Thursday was a must-win for their NCAA Tournament hopes, but getting to 20 wins is always significant. It was the seventh time Iowa has done that in Bluder’s 13 years.
Iowa City is a host site for the NCAA first and second rounds later this month.
“It feels good,” Bluder said. “I sure feel a little more comfortable now.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball