IOWA CITY, Ia. — Theairra Taylor celebrated a breakthrough Thursday.
With the Iowa women’s basketball team needing an overtime spark to beat Ohio State, Taylor turned in her best performance as a Hawkeye.
“Theairra played outstanding,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said after beating the Buckeyes 77-71. “I’ve been waiting for everybody to have the opportunity to enjoy watching Theairra Taylor play the way she did tonight.”
A Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd of 3,850 saw Taylor score a career-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
The 5-foot-11 junior made two free throws and two layups in the opening moments of overtime, giving Iowa a 69-65 lead with 3:37 left in the extra 5-minute period.
It eventually propelled the Hawkeyes (12-3) to a win in their Big Ten Conference opener.
“I just didn’t want to lose,” Taylor said. “Everyone was playing great and everyone is taking their shots.
“I needed to step up a little bit, so I figured this was the time to do it.”
Taylor was among four Iowa players to score in double figures.
Morgan Johnson recorded her 16th career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Samantha Logic contributed 17 points. Jaime Printy added 14.
“That’s what we’re all about,” Bluder said. “We’re about team work, sharing the ball, working for the good shot.”
The Buckeyes (10-4) relied on the shooting of senior guard Tayler Hill.
Hill finished with 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting, but neither she nor Ohio State coach Jim Foster seemed pleased.
“We didn’t make the necessary plays that need to be made,” Hill said, “on defense or offense.”
Foster was less than complimentary of Hill’s performance.
“There comes a point and time where it’s got to be not forced,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a couple of people open if there is two or three people guarding you.”
Hill helped the Buckeyes rally from a 13-point deficit in the second half, but was one of three Ohio State players to miss a potential winning jumper in the closing seconds of regulation.
When asked about the comeback, Hill said, “We played our game. And I don’t know what we were doing the other such and such minutes. We should have been playing like that the whole time.”
Johnson pulled the Hawkeyes even, 63-63, on two free throws with 20.9 seconds remaining in the second half.
“I think in overtime, we were not going to be denied,” Bluder said.
Taylor began beating the Buckeye defense with cuts to the basket.
“Coach was calling the right plays,” Taylor said. “You can’t help off of our shooters, so I usually have a wide open path.”
Foster offered a different perspective.
“People took their eye off her,” he said of Taylor. “She back cut nicely.”
A layup from Printy helped Iowa maintain a 73-68 advantage with 47 seconds remaining. Logic sealed the win with four free throws in the final 37 seconds.
“Just starting out the Big Ten with some momentum, that’s really good for us,” Bluder said. “We have an opportunity to build on it with another home game Sunday (against Michigan).”
The coach is also hoping for an encore from Taylor, who overcame three knee surgeries in a 20-month span.
“She showed she can beat anybody off the dribble,” Bluder said. “She can elevate and she can shoot over people.
“I’m just so happy everybody can see what we’re so excited about with Theairra.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball