HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. — The Huskers are now officially becoming a Big Red monkey on the backs of the Hawkeyes.
Nebraska beat Iowa 76-61 Friday in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Tournament. The loss made the Iowa women’s basketball team 0-6 against Nebraska over the past two years. The Huskers bumped Iowa out of the Big Ten Tournament for the second straight year.
“That is the one team us three seniors never beat in our career,” Iowa senior Jaime Printy said. “Its definitely not a good feeling.
“But there’s some good stuff yet to look forward to.”
Nebraska (23-7) advanced to face Purdue (22-8) in the semifinals today at the Sears Centre. Iowa (20-12) has to wait until March 18 to learn if they get picked for the NCAA Tournament.
“In my opinion, we are not even a bubble team,” Bluder said.
Iowa has a couple weeks to work on fixing its rebounding. The Huskers won the battle of the boards 44-30, and converted 16 offensive rebounds into 18 second-chance points.
“Our box outs were just nonexistent,” Iowa junior Thearria Taylor said. “Effort wasn’t there. And Coach told us throughout the game: Box out, box out. But we never made a change.”
Nebraska also lead the points in the paint 38-18.
“That’s a whole bunch and a lot of high-percentage shots, and those are paint shots,” Bluder said. “The paint points we gave up today were atrocious.”
Defensively, the Huskers collapsed around 6-foot-6 Iowa center Morgan Johnson, double-teaming her whenever she got the ball on the block.
“When Morgan did get the ball, she usually had about three people around her,” Bluder said. “You know, you need other people to pick it up, because if they take one thing away, they are giving another thing, another opportunity to you, and we didn’t take advantage of the other opportunities.”
Taylor led Iowa with a career-high 22 points. She also led the team with seven rebounds and four assists.
Melissa Dixon had 18 points off the bench.
“They were dumb enough to key on me, so they did a really good job of stepping up and hitting those shots,” Johnson said.
But outside of Taylor and Dixon, Iowa shot just 0-for-12 from 3-point range. Logic was 3-of-13 overall from the floor, and Printy was 1-of-6.
“We didn’t run our offense well enough,” Logic said. “Drive more and kick to our shooters. Thea and Dix played great today, knocking down some outside shots. We needed to look for the hot hands a little bit more.”
Iowa trailed by one, 25-24, late in the first half, before the Huskers closed on a 9-0 run, capped off by a 3-pointer from Rachel Theriot right before half.
“They got momentum and we got back on our heels a little bit,” Johnson said. “We can’t let that happen to us.”
Nebraska led 34-24 at intermission.
“You want to have momentum going into the half, and it was on our side,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. “I thought Rachel’s shot at the top of the key … was a big one.”
Combine that with opening the second half with an offensive putback by Hailie Sample and a bucket in the paint by Jordan Hooper, and Iowa was down 38-24 with the weight of recent history on them.
“We weren’t there today,” Logic said. “We weren’t ready mentally, boxing out. We turned the ball over too many times.
“We can play with them, we just need to prove it.”
Nebraska stretched the lead out to 27 points, 72-45, before Iowa finally started making progress.
“We just kind of got stagnant on offense and we weren’t moving like we normally do,” Printy said. “Fundamentals. It was on us.”
Iowa rarely got the free throw line Friday, hitting just 7-of-9. Nebraska had just two fouls in the first half.
“You got to the locker room and you see Nebraska with two fouls in the whole 20 minutes … I mean, nobody is that clean; nobody is that clean in warmups,” Bluder said. “You can’t be that clean in a game, there’s no way.”
Iowa didn’t shoot a free throw until there was 7:22 left in the game.
“It is kind of frustrating,” Printy said. “But at the same time, you can’t blame it on that.”
Hooper led Nebraska with 24 points and seven rebounds. Lindsey Moore had 13 points. Three other Huskers — Sample, Tear’a Laudermill and Brandi Jeffery — each scored eight points.
Hooper, a junior, will return to torment the Hawkeyes again next year.
“I think it’s kind of a pride, too, wanting to beat Iowa,” Hooper said. “Kind of a rivalry, right across the border and stuff like that. They are a lot of fun to play.”
Logic — who had to be tended to on the court after taking a shot to the chops — is already thinking about another rematch.
“As a competitor, you want those opportunities,” Logic said. “I don’t like losing to anyone that many times in a row. You aren’t a competitor if you don’t want to beat them.”