NEBRASKA 72, IOWA 65: AN UNHAPPY BIG TEN TOURNAMENT ENDING

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

I really hate Nebraska.

There's a reason no team in the history of the women's Big Ten Tournament has ever won four games in four days: it's really damn hard.  Iowa gave it a good effort on Sunday and came close... but ultimately they fell short, losing 72-65 to Nebraska in the tournament final.  That the game was even close at the end (and Iowa got as close as 57-56 with around 4 minutes to play) was pretty remarkable, given that Iowa was down 18-4 halfway through the first half thanks to some a combination of ice cold shooting (their own) and dominance on the boards (from Nebraska). But Iowa steadily chipped away at that lead and made things competitive by halftime and throughout the second half.  They just weren't able to get over the hump.

Rebounding dominance was a key factor in the game.  Iowa had 27 total rebounds. Nebraska had 25 offensive rebounds, out of 57 total rebounds.  That immense rebounding advantage coupled with their free throw advantage (Nebraska made 30/36 free throws; Iowa made 11/14 free throws) made up for the fact that Nebraska was fairly terrible shooting the ball: 20/64 (31.3%) from the field, including 2/17 (11.8%) from deep.  Iowa had no answers for Nebraska on the glass and that proved very costly to Iowa.

About that free throw advantage, though... blaming officiating after a loss is often a pretty weak complaint.  But after a game like this it's pretty hard not to feel a little hard done by the zebras: Nebraska was whistled for 13 fouls; Iowa was called for 26 fouls.  And then when you consider some of the plays that they actually called fouls on... woof. This was, simply, an extremely poorly officiated game.  Good job on those official assignments, Big Ten.  It's not like this was an important game or anything... oh wait.

Ally Disterhoft led Iowa in scoring with 20 points, with many of those coming in the first half; she was instrumental in helping Iowa climb out of that early hole and make the game competitive.  She also had 4 rebounds and 3 assists and looks every bit like the sort of player that will be a great building block for this program for the next three seasons.  Sam Logic added 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, and was basically the only Iowa player not in crippling foul trouble.  Two of Iowa's biggest contributors during their run to the Big Ten Tournament, Theairra Taylor and Bethany Doolittle, had quiet games (5 points on 2/9 shooting and 5 rebounds, 7 points on 3/7 shooting and 5 rebounds), which certainly hurt.

Still, while the result of this game was disappointing, this was still a fantastic and praise-worthy run for Iowa.  Great job, ladies.  And their season isn't over yet, either -- they'll be in the NCAA Tournament, hosting a game (and hopefully two) in Iowa City.  We'll find out who they're playing next week, when the Women's NCAA Tournament bracket is announced.

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