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IOWA 76, INDIANA 73: SECOND VERSE, NOT THE SAME AS THE FIRST

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Iowa gets some revenge for an earlier loss and keeps their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

@IowaWBB

Two and a half weeks ago, Iowa went to Bloomington and opened a big halftime lead on the Hoosiers (38-23) behind a thoroughly lopsided second quarter (22-8).  But Indiana turned the tables in the second half (and especially the fourth quarter, where they outscored Iowa 32-16) and came away with a 79-74 victory.  That loss ended up being the start of a four game losing streak for the Hawkeyes, a losing streak that derailed their season and put them on the outside of the bubble to get into the NCAA Tournament.

On Sunday, Iowa welcomed Indiana to Iowa City for the rematch and the first half played out in eerily similar fashion: Iowa used a 20-2 run to start the second quarter (and a 24-8 advantage overall) to open up another big halftime lead (43-28). Indiana again roared back in the second half (outscoring Iowa 45-33), but this time the script had a different ending: Iowa hung on to get the win, ending Indiana's five game winning streak.  The miserable middle of Iowa's Big Ten schedule -- in particular that 1-7 stretch from January 16 to February 15 -- removed virtually all of Iowa's margin of error, but wins like this one keep hope alive for a ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Ally Disterhoft led Iowa in scoring with 19 points on 8/14 shooting and also hauled in 8 rebounds.   But once again some of Iowa's youngest players shone brightly -- freshman point guard Tania Davis added 17 points on 5/7 shooting (and 5/5 from the free throw line), 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals; she's fast becoming one of the key playmakers on this Hawkeye team.  Iowa's young post players, Chase Coley and Megan Gustafson, also had strong games: Coley had a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) to go with a team-high 4 assists and 3 blocks, while Gustafson added 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks.  Davis, Coley, and Gustafson will be key players for Iowa for the next several years, so their emergence is a very welcome development. Iowa also benefited from some uncharacteristically good three-point shooting in this game: they made 6/13 from long range, led by Davis and Whitney Jennings with two triples apiece.

Indiana was the toughest game remaining on Iowa's schedule; they close out the year at Penn State (11th place, 5-11 in Big Ten play) on Wednesday and at home against Illinois (14th place, 2-14 in Big Ten play) on Saturday. Iowa can ill afford any losses at this point in the regular season; they certainly can't afford to lose to bad teams.  Let's hope they can keep the good times rolling (and the shots falling) this week.