Another game, another milestone victory for Iowa women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder.
The Hawkeyes defeated Illinois 69-55 before an announced crowd of 3,636 Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The victory marked the eighth time that Bluder has won at least 20 games in a season as the Iowa coach, with the Hawkeyes improving to 20-6 overall and 8-4 in the Big Ten.
“We want that consistency, we want to be that 20-win program every year,” Bluder said. “We’re trying our hardest to get to that 20-win plateau. I know it doesn’t mean as much to the (NCAA Tournament) search committee as it used to. But I still thinks it’s definitely a positive mark for us.”
Thursday’s victory came three days after Iowa defeated Northwestern 90-84 on Monday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, making Bluder the all-time winningest coach in school history with 270 career wins. Bluder moved past both Vivian Stringer and Tom Davis into first place.
Stringer, who coached the Iowa women from 1983-95, and Davis, who coached the Iowa men from 1986-99, both won 269 games for the Hawkeyes.
Bluder’s eighth 20-win seasons at Iowa trails only Stringer, who won at least 20 games in 10 of her 12 seasons as head coach.
Junior center Bethany Doolittle led four Iowa players in double figures Thursday with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Freshman guard Ally Disterhoft recorded her second double-double in scoring and rebounding with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Disterhoft, a former West High standout, was more pleased with her work on the boards, where Iowa had a 40-23 advantage, including 15-5 on the offensive end.
“I would definitely have to say the rebounds,” Disterhoft said. “That’s been a huge focus of our team this year to improve the rebounding.”
Iowa will play its third game this week when it faces Purdue on Sunday in West Lafayette, Ind.
“We’re happy to get 20 wins, to get it this early in the year is a good thing for us and keeping it on a roll,” Bluder said. “But now we have to go on the road and play at Purdue, a team that’s rested all week long while we’ve had two games.
“But this time of year, to be quite honest, kids would rather play than practice. So I assume they’re going to be rusty and we’re going to be ready to go.”
Iowa spotted Illinois a 5-2 lead before reeling off 10 consecutive points to take a 12-2 lead. Iowa then turned cold on offense and went nearly seven minutes without making a basket.
Illinois took advantage of the dry spell by trimming the lead to 25-20 on back-to-back 3-point baskets by freshman guard Ashley McConnell and senior guard Amber Moore late in the second half.
Iowa scored the final four points of the first half on a layup by Disterhoft, a free throw by junior point guard Samantha Logic and another free throw by Disterhoft, making the score 29-20 at halftime.
Iowa led for almost the entire first half despite junior sharpshooter Melissa Dixon missing all six of her shots in the first half, all of which came from 3-point range.
Bluder kept encouraging Dixon to shoot, and it finally paid dividends when Dixon made her first 3-pointer of the game to give Iowa a 36-20 lead with 18:05 left in the second half. Dixon made her second 3-pointer of the game to expand Iowa’s lead to 54-37 with 8:37 remaining.
Dixon made another 3-pointer barely one minute later to push Iowa’s lead to 59-41 with 7:32 left to play. She finished with 11 points.
“She’s a great shooter,” Bluder said of Dixon. “And sometimes they don’t get in for you. But we did stress that we wanted the ball to go in and then come back out. I think that’s a little better shot for her to get her feet set.”
Illinois paid so much attention to Dixon on perimeter that created space in the paint where Iowa had a 36-10 advantage in points.
Logic finished with a team-high six assists and had zero turnovers while playing all 40 minutes and despite facing a half-court trapping defense.
“We kind of run that same base defense, and I’ve been running it for a couple years now,” Logic said. “We just know a little bit of what they’re trying to do. And coach put us in a good situation, and my teammates got in those situations to be open. So it’s a credit to them.
Illinois fell to 9-16 overall and 2-10 in the Big Ten. Iowa has won 15 of the last 17 games against Illinois.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball