Iowa’s come-from-behind win over No. 17 Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals will go down as Hawkeyes’ best win of their long weekend in Indianapolis.
The thriller over the Boilermakers ranks toward the top of the list of best victories this season for Iowa.
The Hawkeyes’ best performance of the week, however, came in Sunday’s title tilt with Nebraska.
And it came in a loss.
Iowa’s best performance of the tournament came in a game where it shot 38 percent from the floor and had a seven-minute scoring drought.
The state sheet says Iowa should not have even been in this game, yet the Hawkeyes were within one in the final five minutes, making this the most impressive game the Hawkeyes played in Indianapolis.
Playing its fourth game in as many days, Iowa took a team that had won 11 of its last 12 games and is ranked 16th in the country to the wire.
They did that without their backup point guard, Alex Kastanek, who missed her second straight game with an injury, and they did it with an avalanche of foul trouble that limited Theairra Taylor to 18 minutes and Bethany Doolittle to 20.
“Getting Theairra in foul trouble, Melissa in foul trouble, to even be in a game when Theairra plays 18 minutes is huge,” Sam Logic said. “We battled, we could have definitely hung it up, and to only lose by seven in that situation was pretty impressive by our team I think.”
Nebraska had 31 more rebounds than Iowa on Sunday.
The Cornhuskers shot 22 more free throws and were whistled for half as many fouls.
Iowa didn’t score for more than seven minutes in the first half.
Yet Iowa kept coming back.
Every time the Hawkeyes got knocked down Sunday, and if you watched this game you saw plenty of Hawkeyes get knocked down plenty of times, they kept popping back up.
And when Ally Disterhoft hit three free throws with a little more than seven minutes left, Iowa trailed just 57-56.
“It’s amazing when you look at the stat sheet that we were in this game,” Bluder said. “I’ve never seen a stat sheet that looks like that when you still have a chance to be in the game and win.”
The Purdue win was a great boost for the Hawkeyes, so too was Saturday’s semifinal win over Ohio State and reaching the Big Ten Tournament title game should give Iowa a nice boost come selection Monday, but it was this game that Iowa can build off of in the NCAA tournament.
Tough teams make it to March, tougher teams win in March, and if nothing else, the Hawkeyes showed their toughness Sunday.
“We believe in everyone so much on this team, and we have that attitude that we aren’t going to take crap and we aren’t going to back down from anybody,” Logic said. “That is going to keep us in any game, just like it did today.”
Exactly no one in the Iowa locker room wanted to call Sunday’s game anything more than what it was, a close call against a good team.
Iowa wasn’t looking for moral victories or things to build on Sunday; they were looking for a championship and that attitude is invaluable this time of year.
“I think this team knows they can compete with anyone in the United States, and that is a great thing going into the NCAA tournament,” Bluder said. “There is nobody in this country that we can’t compete with right now.”