PURDUE 74, IOWA 73: HAWKEYES COME UP JUST SHORT

USA TODAY Sports

An offensively-challenged second half dooms Iowa's bid for a second road win over a Top-25 opponent.

Maybe it was inevitable. Playing their third game in a week, facing the #23 team in the nation on the road... maybe it was too much to ask the Iowa women to pull off a third win in the span of a week. Maybe it was too much to ask for them to have enough gas left in the tank to finish off a third opponent and write a perfect ending to a sensational week that began with Lisa Bluder recording her 270th career win and writing her name atop the career wins list in the Iowa record books.

The game started well for Iowa and for 20 minutes it looked like Iowa would indeed get that third win of the week, their fourth straight overall, and their second-straight road win over a ranked opponent (after their 73-70 win over then-#9 Penn State ten days ago). Iowa led throughout the first half, thanks to some blistering shooting: 60% from the floor (18/30) and 55% from long range (6/11). Theairra Taylor had a full game's worth of production in the first half -- 17 points -- and Iowa built a 44-28 lead heading into the break. Things looked good.

Alas, things did not stay looking good in the second half. Iowa's hot shooting cooled off dramatically and their defense -- rarely a strong suit all season -- buckled against the Boilermaker offense to the tune of 46 points. But Iowa's defense hasn't been particularly impressive all season; they've lived or died this year by their offensive performances and their complete collapse on that side of the ball on Sunday seems like the biggest factor in their loss. After putting up gaudy offensive numbers in the first half, Iowa could manage just 29 points in the second half on 27.8% shooting from the field (10/36). Taylor, who had 17 points in the first half, ended the game with just 19 points. Purdue's defense stiffened in the second half, but Iowa's offense also simply missed too many layups and easy looks in that half. Maybe they ran out of gas after the long week of games.

Meanwhile, the loss slightly overshadowed the fact that -- ho hum -- Samantha Logic put together another freakin' triple double. 18 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds. Oh, and 6 steals, too, just for the hell of it. She's in absolutely unimpeachable form right now and while that brilliant performance didn't come package with a Hawkeye win this time, it's still very much a performance worth celebrating. Logic is threatening to make triple-doubles -- in college, no less -- seem almost commonplace, which is, frankly, insane. Maybe that's why she decided to up the ante and go for a quadruple double today. Regardless, she's absolutely amazing to watch and utterly deserving of some serious All-Big Ten and Big Ten Player of the Year love. And she's just a junior... so she's likely still getting better.

The loss doesn't damage Iowa's NCAA Tournament hopes much, if at all -- they were firmly in the field of 64 before this game and losing on the road to a top-25 team isn't going to change. If anything, this loss is simply a missed opportunity, a chance for Iowa to burnish its resume with another impressive road win and perhaps move up in the seeding structure and maybe even avoid those damnable 7-8-9 seeds. Iowa has just three games left in the regular season (at Michigan, Ohio State, and at Illinois) and none of them offer much opportunity to impress pollsters, selection committee members, or the RPI formula. Those teams currently sit 6th, 10th, and 12th, respectively, in the Big Ten and have a combined record of 13-25 in league play.

Up next: after their busy schedule last week, Iowa gets a breather this week -- no games until a trip to Michigan on Saturday, February 22nd at 12:30 PM CT. BTN has TV coverage of the game.

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