Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder had nothing to apologize for after Saturday’s game against Indiana.
It was high praise all the way as the Hawkeyes avenged a loss to Indiana on Jan. 2 by defeating the Hoosiers 84-75 before an announced crowd of 7,180 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Bluder raved about the performance of freshman guard Ally Disterhoft, who scored 15 points in her second career start. Bluder also praised the defensive effort of 6-foot-4 junior center Bethany Doolittle, who finished with a career-high seven blocks.
“It feels good to get that one back,” Bluder said of Iowa’s 86-84 loss to Indiana in the first game. “That had kind of been bugging us for a long time. The nice thing when you get to play a team twice is you get the opportunity to get that one back.
“But I did remind our team after the game that Minnesota is saying the same thing about us, because they lost at our place and now we’re headed up there on Wednesday.”
Iowa improved to 16-5 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten and now hits the road for a game against Minnesota on Wednesday in Minneapolis. Iowa defeated the Gophers 78-71 on Jan. 8 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Bluder apologized for her team’s performance following an 88-72 loss against Michigan State on Jan. 16 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa has won two games in a row since losing to the Spartans, and four of its last five games overall.
“I thought the way we bounced back from it was very good,” Bluder said. “I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around in practice for a couple days and they responded well to that. They took it and they moved on.”
Senior Theairra Taylor led four Iowa players in double figures Saturday with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. The Hawkeyes shot 53.7 percent from the field and forced 22 turnovers.
Indiana stayed within striking distance thanks largely to making 10 3-point shots, including six by guard Taylor Agler.
“I thought offensively we did a lot of really nice things,” Bluder said. “Defensively, we let them have too good of a field-goal percentage.
“Agler got open for too many 3′s. The good thing about our defense, though, we forced 22 turnovers and we scored 29 points off the 22 turnovers and we boxed out in the second half. We really challenged the team at halftime, we have to box out better, and then we only gave up two second-half offensive rebounds.”
Taylor and Disterhoft both reached double figures in scoring in the first half with 13 and 10, points, respectively. Disterhoft also made both of her attempts from 3-point range in the first half.
Disterhoft made a conventional 3-point play to give Iowa a 55-44 lead with 15:32 left in the second half. The former Iowa City West High star also made a basket in transition to expand Iowa’s lead to 57-46 with 14:33 remaining, and she assisted on a 3-point basket by Melissa Dixon on Iowa’s next possession.
“It was definitely a real special moment,” Disterhoft said of making her first career start at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I kind of just tried to treat it as another game, but you do get those butterflies hearing your name called in the starting lineup.”
Doolitte’s seventh block of the game triggered a fast break that ended with point guard Sam Logic throwing a nifty bounce pass to Taylor for a layup to give Iowa a 69-55 lead with 9:06 remaining. Logic finished with a game-high 11 assists.
“I just try to get my hands up there and I try to get any tips that I can and tonight it happened more than usual,” said Doolittle, who now ranks fourth at Iowa with 146 career blocks.
Taylor credited the Iowa defense for igniting the offense during the game. The Hawkeyes held Indiana to 11 fewer points compared to the first game in Bloomington, Ind.
“We’re starting to notice that our defense leads to our offense and we get to push a lot more and that’s fun for everybody,” Taylor said.
Doolittle helped to trigger Iowa’s transition game by keeping most of her seven blocks in play.
“I think the great thing about the way Bethany blocks shots, lots of people will block shots and it ends up in the bleachers,” Bluder said. “Well, the team just gets the ball back.
“Beth is really soft with her blocked shots, and we often retain possession of the ball, and that’s huge in getting our fast break going.”
Bluder also credited Disterhoft’s presence in the starting lineup for making Iowa more dangerous on offense.
“It makes us so hard to guard because there is nobody they can really help off of,” Bluder said. “There is nobody they can sag off of. I think when you have five weapons like that, our offense flows so much better.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball