INDIANAPOLIS -- Balance is what fifth-seeded Iowa has been all about all season and that is what enabled them to overcome No. 4-seed Purdue, 87-80, in the second, albeit less dramatic, upset of Round Two of the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis Friday afternoon.
That, and turnovers.
Iowa had five players put up double-figure scores, but it was, even more so, the ability of the Hawkeyes to force turnovers at key times, including taking charges on layups, that turned the tide.
Melissa Dixon led the parade for Iowa with 18 points while Theirra Taylor added 17, Bethany Doolittle 16, and Ally Disterhoft and Samantha Logic each contributed 12.
“We just did a good job distributing the ball,” Disterhoft said. “We believe in each other so much."
But it was the ability to take the charge that turned the tide in this tightly contested game. “Yeah, I think we scored 32 points off of their 20 turnovers," Bluder said. “That's a lot. You know, we had a couple of times they threw it out-of-bounds but we also took five charges in this game, maybe even more. That number stands out to me right now. It's not easy to take a charge. I really admire players when they take charges, because it's hard to put your body in the way of somebody coming in full force to the basket. Once you get a couple of them you realize they are going to call this. We are going to be able to pick it up. Then it kind of snowballs. I think that happened to us today. We realized we could do this, and it kind of got everybody a little bit more inspired to give up their bodies."
For the game, Purdue committed 20 turnovers. “We needed to have someone take control out there, and no one was,” Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. “Defensively we were getting beat off the dribble and then playing fly-swatter defense and it did not work.”
Versyp also bemoaned the fact that her team had blown a nine-point lead late in the first half and held only a 39-35 edge. “[Losing the lead] was big,” she said. We're ahead by nine. We're not supposed to hop off any ball-side shooters. We had turnovers and we had charges and four plays that we were supposed to execute, we didn't execute one.”
Purdue was led by Courtney Moses' 24 points while Whiteny bays recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
This was a contest that Iowa wanted to atone for blowing a 16-point lead in West Lafayette on February 16, losing there by a 74-73 score.
“Our players wanted the rematch, no disrespect to Purdue,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “That game was referred to quite a bit over the last 24 hours. So when we were down by seven with 12 minutes to play, we reminded them that Purdue had come back and we could turn the tables.”
With the win, Iowa advances to Saturday's Big Ten Tournament semifinals, where they will face eighth-seeded Ohio State (17/17), the orchestrator of today's other tournament upset when they bumped out the league's No. 1 seed, Penn State.
The Hawkeyes' record improved to 25-7 with today's victory, while Purdue awaits the NCAA call at 21-8. Both teams will host during the opening rounds of the upcoming NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament; both teams are ranked nationally, with Iowa ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press poll and receiving three votes in this week's Coaches Poll and Purdue weighing in at No. 17/16; and both teams are considered locks to receive at-large bids to the Big Dance, though their seeds will depend heavily on this week's performances in the Big Ten Tournament.
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