INDIANAPOLIS Trailing by a point late in the first half with your all-conference point guard sitting on the bench with three fouls seems to fall under the category of an uncomfortable situation.
Unless you are the Iowa women’s basketball team.
With Samantha Logic sidelined with three fouls, Iowa overcame its only deficit of the game with a 15-2 run to close the first half on its way to an 81-62 win over Illinois (9-21) in the opening round of the Big Ten women’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Bethany Doolittle had seven of her career-high 26 points during the 15-2 run to end the half as No. 23 Iowa (24-7) earned a rematch with No. 17 Purdue (21-7) in today’s quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m.
“She (Logic) is definitely a huge part of our game, but everybody else stepped up to the plate when they had to today,” Doolittle said. “Everyone kind of did their part to give us success tonight.”
Trailing 27-26, Iowa outscored Illinois by 12 points over the final 3:35 of the opening half to take a 41-29 halftime lead.
Illinois never got closer than eight points the rest of the game as Iowa shot 63 percent from the floor in the second half to advance to the Big Ten quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive year.
“We built a big lead when she was out and that hasn’t happened for us,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I think that’s great for us to go through those experiences and understand that if Sam goes out, fine, we can handle it.”
Iowa led 24-15 with less than 9 minutes to play in the opening half. Illinois used a 12-2 run to take its first lead of the game with 4:22 left in the first half.
Senior Amber Moore scored nine points during the spurt that spanned more than 4 minutes.
Things seemed to go from bad to worse for Iowa when Logic picked up her third foul with 4:50 left in the half going for a loose ball.
With their leader on the bench, the Hawkeyes responded.
Freshman Ally Disterhoft stopped the run with a pair of free throws and later added a conventional 3-point play that put the Hawkeyes up 33-29 with 1:43 left.
“We called a timeout and the team on the floor responded so well,” Logic said. “Alexa (Kastanek) and Ally especially played great. As freshmen in their first Big Ten Tournament game, that’s huge.”
Disterhoft set up another 3-point play seconds later when she rejected a Sarah Livingston layup attempt, grabbed the rebound and hit Kastanek with an outlet pass.
Kastanek found Doolittle under the basket and the 6-foot-4 junior converted the 3-point play to put Iowa up 36-29 with 1:17 left.
“I was just trying to be in good outside position; I don’t think she knew I was coming across, and I just went for the ball and got it,” Disterhoft said. “Someone hit Bethany and she got that (basket)-and-one, and that gave us a ton of momentum. I think obviously you could tell they were pretty excited about that one.”
Doolittle added a 17-foot jumper with 43 seconds left and Kastanek connected on a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to put Iowa in front 41-29 at the half.
Iowa hit four of its final five field-goal attempts of the first half, scoring on six of its last eight possessions in the half. All with Logic watching from the bench.
“I thought that gave us great momentum going into the half,” Bluder said. “I think it was 13-2 or something like that. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was great momentum going into the locker room feeling like that.”
Disterhoft notched her third double-double of the season in the first Big Ten Tournament game of her career, finishing with 14 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Melissa Dixon added 15 points as Iowa won its third game of the season over Illinois.
The Hawkeyes shot 54 percent from the floor and held a 45-31 rebounding advantage as Logic added 11 rebounds.
Logic finished with six assists to move up to ninth on the Big Ten career assists list with 583.