Iowa Women's Basketball

Win at Minnesota 'mentally and physically' exhausted Iowa women's basketball

15-point comeback made for a quiet, content flight home

Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder applauds her team after winning their game against Indiana on Sunday. The Hawkeyes beat Minnesota
Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder applauds her team after winning their game against Indiana on Sunday. The Hawkeyes beat Minnesota on Thursday for their fifth straight victory. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa Hawkeyes flew home late Thursday night, too pooped to party.

“It was pretty quiet,” Coach Lisa Bluder said. “Everybody was exhausted. It was one of those games that mentally and physically wears you out.”

Trailing by 15 points in the third quarter (and down 13 with eight minutes left), the 22nd-ranked Hawkeyes stormed back with a 19-5 rush at the end to edge Minnesota, 76-75, in a Big Ten women’s basketball game at Williams Arena in Minneapolis.

“I don’t know if we wore them out, or if we just started playing better defense,” Bluder said. “We finally started getting some boxouts, and we hit some big 3-pointers at the end.”

The Hawkeyes (14-3, 5-1 Big Ten) hit five of them — from four different players — in their final, furious rush.

After Minnesota (11-6, 1-5) scored the first four points of the fourth quarter, Kathleen Doyle got it started. Her trey cut the deficit to 70-60 with 7:42 remaining.

 Not long after Monika Czinano picked up her fourth foul, McKenna Warnock hit from deep. The Hawkeyes were down 70-63 with 5:48 to go.

 Taiye Bello scored to push the Gophers’ lead back to nine, but Alexis Sevillian answered immediately with another 3-pointer to make it 72-66 with 4:20 left.

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 Iowa’s next two baskets were from Makenzie Meyer (layup) and Czinano (short jumper). Then Meyer, who started the game 0-for-7 from the floor, struck from long range, and the Hawkeyes were within 74-73 with 1:10 to play.

 Then came the game-winner. Doyle drove the middle, and when the Minnesota defense collapsed, she located Sevillian in the left corner. Sevillian’s baseline bomb put Iowa in front, 76-74, with eight seconds left.

“Iowa made some big shots,” Minnesota Coach Lindsay Whalen said. “I think a couple times we were just a step away from the shooters and they made some big shots. It came down to one stop again for us.”

Minnesota had one final chance. Iowa had committed only one foul in the quarter, so the Hawkeyes had three “fouls to give” before the Gophers went into the bonus.

“We wanted to foul them while they were dribbling,” Bluder said. “We weren’t on the same page, and that didn’t happen. Instead, we fouled at the most inopportune time.”

Meyer fouled Gadiva Hubbard on a 15-foot shot attempt with 0:00.7 on the clock. But Hubbard did the Hawkeyes two favors.

She missed the first free throw. And instead of missing the second intentionally, she made it.

A successful inbounds pass, and the Hawkeyes were victorious.

It was a bizarre day long well before the comeback. Minnesota’s top player, junior Destiny Pitts, announced earlier Thursday that she would enter the transfer portal. She was suspended in the Gophers’ previous game.

“We went through practice (Tuesday and Wednesday) assuming she was playing, then we heard during shootaround (Thursday) that she wasn’t,” Bluder said. “We had to modify a few things. I thought Minnesota played well. They were inspired.”

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Iowa plays at Wisconsin (9-8, 1-5) at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Hawkeyes have beaten the Badgers 20 straight times.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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