LINCOLN, Neb. — Iowa came into Saturday’s Big Ten women’s basketball opener against Nebraska shooting the ball well, making 47 percent of its shots.
Nebraska’s man-to-man defense pestered and flustered Iowa’s shooters throughout, holding the Hawkeyes to their lowest shooting percentage of the season in the Huskers’ 78-69 win at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Huskers (11-1, 1-0) held Iowa (9-3, 0-1) to 36.8 percent shooting — 21-of-57 overall and 6-of-20 from 3-point range.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we’re capable of,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “Sometimes that happens on the road.”
Especially in the second half, Iowa had open looks rattle in and out, preventing it from either tying or taking the lead.
“We just didn’t knock down some open shots,” Bluder said. “We’re a better 3-point shooting team than we showed. We just have to rebound and think the next one’s going in no matter what.”
Iowa’s starting backcourt of Kathleen Doyle, Makenzie Meyer and Alexis Sevillian went a combined 7-of-32 from the floor. Doyle had a team-high 19 points, with 10 coming at the free-throw line. Meyer and Sevillian were held to five points each.
Doyle noted Nebraska’s man-to-man defense forced Iowa out of rhythm.
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“Their ball pressure got to us in the first half,” Doyle said. “The second half we did a better job of attacking well and being hands and feet ready.”
Nebraska’s defense forced 18 Iowa turnovers, and allowed only 12 Hawkeye assists.
“We were making sure we ran them off the line,” Nebraska guard Nicea Eliely said. “It was a good job on our part of being aggressive and getting in their head.”
The Huskers outscored the Hawkeyes 24-9 in points off turnovers.
“They forced us into a lot of turnovers and they used those opportunities,” Bluder said.
Nebraska’s defense anticipated Iowa’s offensive maneuvers effectively enough to keep the Hawkeye shooters from becoming comfortable.
“Just the ball pressure — they did a good job of denying one pass away pretty well and forcing us a little bit out of our rhythm,” Bluder said.
Iowa led 21-18 after the first, but Nebraska outscored the Hawkeyes 20-13 in the second for a 38-34 halftime edge. Doyle, however, was out much of the first half with two fouls.
Monika Czinano had 16 points and 17 rebounds for Iowa.
Iowa had several opportunities to tie or take the lead in the third quarter, but either a turnover or a missed shot prevented the Hawkeyes from doing so. Nebraska led 57-52 after three quarters.
The Hawkeyes came no closer than five in the final 10 minutes.
“We just couldn’t get over the hump and couldn’t get the momentum swing back to our side,” Bluder said. “On the road, that’s a little tougher to do that.”
Nebraska was led by Kate Cain’s 16 points, one of five Huskers in double figures.
Iowa hosts Illinois (9-3, 0-1) at 2 p.m. Tuesday.