MINNEAPOLIS — The play was breaking down. The shot clock was ticking down. Lisa Bluder was about to call a timeout.
Then Kathleen Doyle spotted Alexis Sevillian in the corner.
“We love the corner, don’t we?” Bluder said.
Sevillian drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with eight seconds left, and 22nd-ranked Iowa rallied from a double-digit deficit for the second straight game, slipping past Minnesota, 76-75, in a Big Ten women’s basketball game Thursday night before a crowd of 3,412 at Williams Arena.
The Hawkeyes (14-3 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) trailed by 15 points in the third quarter, and still faced a 70-57 hill to climb with eight minutes left.
Once again, they scaled it. The big question is, how?
“Good question,” Doyle said. “We just kept fighting. We stayed with it until the end.”
As a result, Iowa remains in a tie for first place in the Big Ten, along with Northwestern and Rutgers. The Hawkeyes head to Wisconsin at 2 p.m. Sunday, then host Ohio State and Michigan State next week.
That’s a good opportunity to keep building on a winning streak that has reached five straight.
Sevillian hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the second overtime against Indiana on Sunday. She hit the deck early in the third quarter and Iowa down 12, tweaking a sore right ankle.
But like her team, Sevillian wouldn’t stay down.
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“We believe in each other. We’re able to stick together and come out on top in the end,” she said.
Minnesota (11-6, 1-5) was without leading scorer Destiny Pitts, and will be for the rest of the season. Pitts, who was to serve the second game of a suspension Thursday, announced on Twitter earlier in the day that she will enter the transfer portal.
The Gophers were short-handed, but big-hearted, leading for most of the game. It looked particularly bleak for the Hawkeyes when Godiva Hubbard finished a layup to make it 70-57 with 8:00 to go.
But Doyle hit a 3-pointer, McKenna Warnock nailed another, and the comeback was underway.
Makenzie Meyer, who missed her first seven shots, finally broke through with a layup to cut it to 72-68, then her 3-pointer brought the Hawkeyes within 74-73 with 1:10 to go.
After Minnesota’s Jasmine Brunson missed a contested short shot, the Hawkeyes took possession with 35 seconds left. They couldn’t find an opening until Doyle spotted Sevillian.
“The play broke down, and we had to make something happen,” Doyle said. “Lexi was ready to shoot it.”
Obviously. All net.
“Doyle penetrated and I was open,” Sevillian said. “I let it go.“
Minnesota had one more chance, and Meyer fouled Hubbard in the act of shooting with 0:00.7 left. Hubbard missed the first free throw, then made the second.
Iowa called timeout and advanced the ball to midcourt. Doyle got the ball inbounds to Meyer, who cradled it as the final fraction elapsed.
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Sophomore Monika Czinano, who grew up 35 miles from here in Watertown, Minn., led the Hawkeyes with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the floor.
“This was a lot of fun,” Czinano said. “I used to come here a lot as a little girl.”
Doyle added 17 points, six rebounds and eight assists, and Sevillian tacked on 11 points.
Sara Scalia and Hubbard paced Minnesota with 18 points apiece.
Hubbard scored seven points in a 10-2 push at the end of the first half that gave the Gophers a 43-35 halftime lead. Their largest advantage was 15, at 61-46 and 63-48.
“(Minnesota) played inspired,” Bluder said. “But we finally got some stops and the end and finally boxed them out at the end.”
IOWA 76, MINNESOTA 75
IOWA (76): Amanda Ollinger 3-4 0-2 6, Monika Czinano 10-11 1-2 21, Makenzie Meyer 2-9 2-2 7, Alexis Sevillian 4-6 0-0 11, Kathleen Doyle 5-11 5-6 17, Tomi Taiwo 1-4 0-0 3, McKenna Warnock 3-4 0-0 9, Gabbie Marshall 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 28-52 10-14 76.
MINNESOTA (75): Klarke Sconiers 1-1 0-0 2, Sara Scalia 6-12 2-2 18, Jasmine Brunson 6-18 4-4 16, Masha Adashchyk 2-8 0-0 5, Gadiva Hubbard 5-12 7-8 18, Barbora Tomancova 2-4 1-2 5, Jasmine Powell 2-7 0-0 5, Taiye Bello 3-6 0-0 6. Totals 27-68 14-16 75.
Halftime: Minnesota 43, Iowa 35. 3-point goals: Iowa 10-25 (Meyer 1-5, Sevillian 3-5, Doyle 2-5, Taiwo 1-3, Warnock 3-4, Marshall 0-3), Minnesota 7-21 (Scalia 4-8, Adashchyk 1-3, Hubbard 1-6, Powell 1-4). Team fouls: Iowa 14, Minnesota 15. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Iowa 28 (Doyle 6), Minnesota 39 (Scalia 10). Assists: Iowa 25 (Meyer 9), Minnesota 16 (Brunson 6). Steals: Iowa 6 (Warnock 2), Minnesota 9 (Hubbard 5). Turnovers: Iowa 16, Minnesota 12.
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