IOWA CITY, Ia. — Two women’s basketball teams heading in opposite directions stayed on course Thursday as No. 8 Penn State defeated Iowa 81-69 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Clinging to a 37-34 lead at halftime, the Nittany Lions pulled away in the second half and improved to 21-3 overall and 11-1 in the Big Ten.
Iowa (16-10 and 5-7) has lost five games in a row and now heads back on the road for a matchup with No. 18 Purdue on Sunday in West Lafayette, Ind. Iowa defeated the Boilermakers 62-46 on Jan. 20 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Following the Purdue game, Iowa will play at Nebraska on Feb. 24. The Cornhuskers defeated Iowa 76-75 Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Anytime you lose a game, it’s tough,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “But when you’ve lost five in a row, it’s really tough. We’re in a situation where we’re going to play on the road now two games, and we’re sitting in a situation where we really need to win one of those two road games.
“And it’s not easy going to play at No. 13 Purdue and then going to Nebraska, a team we just lost to on Monday. So it’s a tough road.”
Iowa’s victory over Purdue last month came during a stretch in which the Hawkeyes won three games in a row to climb back in the top-25 national rankings for the first time since 2011.
Iowa hasn’t won since then, though, and now is in danger of not making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2006-07 season and in a season in which the University of Iowa is hosting the first two rounds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa entered Thursday’s game with a 6-0 record against ranked opponents this season.
“It’s a long season, and we have to understand that each game is important and to understand that we are still that good team that played early in the season,” said senior center Morgan Johnson, who led four Iowa players in double figures Thursday with 17 points. “We need to continue to work together and not allow anything to bring us down.”
Neither team could grab the momentum in the first half, which included seven lead changes, the score being tied six times and no lead larger than five points.
Iowa scored the first four points in the second half and led 38-37 when Penn State center Nikki Green stepped to the line to attempt two free throws with 17 minutes, 59 seconds left in the second half. She converted both free throws and that was a start of a 14-2 Penn State scoring run.
Iowa never threatened much after that while losing to Penn State for the fourth game in a row.
Senior guard Jaime Printy was held to just two points and she missed all five of her field-goal attempts. The former Linn-Mar standout also committed six of Iowa’s 20 turnovers. It was Printy’s second lowest point total of the season. She scored one point against Illinois State in the second game of the season, but only played 15 minutes in that game compared with 29 minutes in Thursday’s game.
“A lot of ball pressure, and unfortunately, she got rattled out there tonight,” Bluder said of Printy.
Printy entered Thursday’s game as Iowa’s second leading scorer with a 14.4 per-game average. She also was second on the team with 49 3-point baskets.
“Printy is a great shooter, and when she gets wide open looks, she’s going to knock them down,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “So a point of emphasis for us was certainly not letting her have wide open looks and making it tough for her to get easy touches. And I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting her touches.”
Sophomore guard Melissa Dixon provided an offensive spark for Iowa by scoring 16 points off the bench before fouling out late in the second half.
Other than missing eight of 19 free throws, Bluder was pleased with her team’s performance on offense, which included 26 baskets on 18 assists.
Her opinion of Iowa’s defense was much different, though. Penn State shot 51.6 percent from the field in the second half with many of the shots uncontested.
“I just think defensively is where we’re the most disappointed with this game,” Bluder said.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball