The goal was to defend the home court, but that quickly became one of many problems for the Iowa women’s basketball team against Michigan State on Thursday.
The Spartans dominated Iowa in virtually every statistical category while coasting to an 88-72 victory before an announced crowd of 4,176 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder began her post-game news conference by issuing an apology to the fans on a night when tickets cost only $1 as part of a promotion.
“I’m extremely disappointed in the way we played this game, especially the first half,” Bluder said. “I need to apologize to our fans that came out tonight. We had 4,200 people here and did not give them a dollar’s worth of entertainment on buck night.”s
“It was embarrassing to get down that much on our home court against, obviously, a good team. But that’s what the Big Ten is all about.”
Michigan State never trailed during the game and built a 29-point lead in the second half while improving to 12-5 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten. Iowa fell to 14-5 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten and now hits the road for a game Sunday at Ohio State.
Coaches often talk about moving on after such a lopsided loss, but Bluder wanted Thursday’s defeat to sting for a while.
“It’s has to bug you,” Bluder said. “If you’re a competitor, it’s got to really tick you off. I mean, that’s what drives you. If this doesn’t hurt, you’re not learning anything from it. If you don’t watch this film and learn from it, then it’s a complete waste of time.”
Bluder couldn’t pinpoint an area where her team struggled the most because there were too many breakdowns from which to choose.
“I think we were suffering in all areas tonight,” she said. “Rebounds, defense, offense, it was just the whole picture. We didn’t take care of the ball and we gave them a lot of high-percentage shots. And when you get rewarded with good defense and layups, you just intensify your defense even more.
“We were making crazy passes to the green jerseys. We were just making hope passes out there instead of making logical, good basketball decisions and we just dug ourselves a big hole.”
Michigan State shot a sizzling 51.7 from the field, making 30-of-58 field-goal attempts, including 9-of-14 shots from 3-point range.
But it was the Spartans’ defense according to coach Suzy Merchant that set the tone.
Iowa made only 1-of-13 3-point field-goal attempts and 29-of-64 shots overall. Junior sharpshooter Melissa Dixon was held in check for the entire game, missing her only three attempts from 3-point range.
“I thought we were pretty focused and determined from the get-go and I think some of our offensive success started with our ability to defend them and get stops, and it created some transition opportunities for us,” Merchant said. “I think it started there.”
Michigan State had five players who scored in double figures, led by redshirt freshman guard Aerial Powers with 20 points.
Junior center Bethany Doolittle led Iowa with 21 points, while junior point guard Samantha Logic and freshman forward Ally Disterhoft finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
However, Logic also committed four turnovers and she blamed herself for not feeding Doolittle enough in the post.
“You have to remember the things you did poorly in order to get ticked off and get better at them,” Logic said. “You want to remember that feeling we had in the locker room when we came in at halftime and at the end of the game, so we don’t have that again.”
Disterhoft and Doolittle both made baskets to trim the lead to 15-12 in the first half. But the Spartans responded by outscoring Iowa 34-16 for the remainder of the first half, which ended with Michigan State leading 49-28.
Michigan State shot a blistering 54.3 percent in the first half, with many of its baskets coming on easy layups in transition and from open looks on the perimeter. The Spartans also controlled the boards in the first 20 minutes, out-rebounding Iowa 24-11 in the first half and 44-29 overall.
Doolittle was the lone bright spot for Iowa in the first half, scoring 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. She made half of Iowa’s 12 field goals in the first half.
She picked up her third foul less than two minutes into the second half, but Bluder couldn’t afford to sit Doolittle on the bench for too long with Iowa facing such a large deficit.
Disterhoft, a former West High standout, and fellow freshman Alexa Kastanek provided a spark in the second half by combining to score 16 consecutive points for the Hawkeyes. Disterhoft scored the first eight points before Kastanek responded with eight points in a row.
Bluder was asked if the late run by her two freshmen was something she could take from the game and turn into a positive.
“Way to find a bright spot,” Bluder said. “I appreciate that. It was kind of out-of-hand at that point. So there was not a lot of pressure at that point.
“It’d be nice to get them playing like that during crunch time. But at the same time, they still did it and they didn’t give up. So that’s a good thing.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball