Iowa took the bumps, slaps and crashes in stride Sunday. It just meant more trips to the free-throw line in a 74-64 win over Illinois State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“You expect to get fouled, but you still try to go up and make those shots,” said senior center Morgan Johnson, who led Iowa with 24 points, hitting 12-of-13 at the line. “When a team is as aggressive as they are, you take that and use that your advantage.”
Illinois State (1-1) committed 27 fouls and the Hawkeyes finished 32-of-41 from the foul line Sunday, one shy of the school record for made free throws.
“We’re going to try to do it any way we can,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We’re not a team that has to get it inside or has to hit the threes. We had free throws tonight.
“We don’t care how we get the points, the most important thing is that we get them.”
Iowa (2-0) advances to the semifinal round of the WNIT and hosts Middle Tennessee State (2-0) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The other semifinal features Georgetown vs. Duquesne (or North Carolina).
The Redbirds were a persistent threat, led by Wisconsin transfer Jamie Russell. The senior had 30 points, 12 rebounds and eight steals for Illinois State.
But after Iowa went on a 9-0 run midway through the first half to make it 24-12, the Redbirds never closed the gap to closer than six points the rest of the way.
“They were calling it on both ends,” Iowa junior Theairra Taylor said. “It slowed down the pace, but we got used to it.”
Although the offense was slow to develop — Iowa shot just 19-of-54 from the field (35.2 percent) — the Hawkeyes made up for it on the line and on defense.
Illinois State shot just 32.9 percent (25-of-76), and Iowa had 10 blocked shots and nine steals.
Johnson had five blocks and now is just four from the career record at Iowa. But it was her offense that made the difference.
“My name is out there a little bit more,” Johnson said. “People are more like, ‘She’s not a huge post, so we’re going to push her off the blocks.’ I feel like just trying to maintain that position is going to be really important. I welcome that. Going into them, drawing those fouls is going to be really important.”
The big swing in the second half started with a three-point play by Johnson and ended on a fast break layup by Taylor on a pass from Samantha Logic. It made it 56-39.
Iowa led by 22 points with 3:20 to play, but the reserves were outscored 14-2 in the final minutes.
Taylor finished with her first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds to go with five assists. Bethany Doolittle and Melissa Dixon each added eight points.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball