A trip to a warm-weather climate is just what Iowa junior guard Melissa Dixon needed to end a cold streak.
Dixon made a school-record seven 3-point baskets for the second consecutive game to lift Iowa to a 97-91 come-from-behind victory over Syracuse on Thursday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Johnsburg, Ill., native also made seven treys in last Saturday’s 102-65 victory over North Carolina-Wilmington in the final game of the Cancun Challenge in Mexico.
“I started off the season in a little bit of a cold spell, and my coaches and my teammates kept talking to me about keeping the confidence and knowing that that next one was going in,” said Dixon, who scored all of her points in the second half Thursday.
Dixon has made 22-of-44 3-point shots in the last four games, three of them in the Cancun Challenge where Iowa finished 3-0. She only made 7-of-46 3-point shots in the first six games of the season.
Iowa improved to 9-1 with the victory and faces a quick turnaround with a game Saturday against Idaho State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Syracuse fell to 8-1.
The Hawkeyes trailed Syracuse by 14 points in the first half before storming back behind the 3-point shooting of Dixon, the inside scoring of 6-foot-4 junior center Bethany Doolittle and the all-around play of junior point guard Sam Logic, who missed part of the first half after taking an elbow to the head.
“Obviously, this was a big win for us, especially having to battle back from behind and play with a little adversity when Sam was out,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought everybody contributed to this win. It was one of those wins that you just feel so good about because everybody was an important part.”
Logic missed about six minutes in the first half while being treated for a cut above her right eye that required eight stitches. Iowa was outscored 21-10 during Logic’s absence, but crept back to within five points at 42-37 late in the first half.
Syracuse scored five points right in the final minute of the first half and led 47-37 at the break.
“I thought when we got down we didn’t rush things,” Bluder said. “We kept believing out there the whole time and that was a lot of fun.
“But I guess my biggest complaint right now is we have to get our doctors to sew a little quicker.”
Dixon is one of just four Iowa players to make seven 3-pointers in a game. She is the only Hawkeye to do it twice.
She also nearly broke the school record for most points in one half. Former guard Crystal Smith set the record with 28 points in one half against Louisiana Tech in 2005.
“I just credit my teammates,” Dixon said. “We just move the ball around real well. No one cares who scores. We just want to win so badly. We worry more about the assists than who actually scores.”
The combination of Logic’s passing and Doolittle’s presence near the basket helped Dixon find open looks in the second half against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense. Doolittle scored a career-high 25 points, including 17 in the first half.
“I credit them both for all of it,” Dixon said. “I think we did a really good job in the second half of handling their zone. Putting Bethany in the middle just kind of opened everything up and I was open a lot more on the wing.”
Freshman Alexa Kastanek played point guard while Logic was being treated in the locker room. Kastanek then switched back to shooting guard after Logic returned and made two 3-point baskets late in the first half, trimming the deficit to five points.
Iowa’s offense bogged down at times without Logic playing point guard. The junior from Racine, Wis., has 423 assists to rank fourth on Iowa’s all-time list.
She also had seven of Iowa’s 28 assists in Thursday’s game.
“Sam’s our leader,” Bluder said. “She’s kind of the heart of our basketball team and she’s so instrumental for us to have her out on the floor.
“When that happened I think a lot of our teammates were kind of worried about her, too. There was a lot of blood on the floor out there. It shocks you little bit to see that from a teammate you care a lot about. So my main message was to take a deep breath, get it out of your mind, and I just said Sam is going to be really pisseed if you lose this game.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball