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IOWA 87, PURDUE 80: IOWA DUMPS PURDUE, ADVANCES TO SEMIFINALS

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Iowa used a scorching second half to avenge an earlier loss to Purdue and move on to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A day after trouncing Illinois, 81-62, Iowa kept the good times rolling in the Big Ten Tournament with a come-from-behind win over 17th ranked Purdue to advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday afternoon.  (FUN FACT: The win was Iowa's 25th of the season, tops in the Big Ten.)  Iowa and Purdue have been two of the Big Ten's hottest teams of late:

As noted, Iowa's lone speed bump in this recent run of excellent play came against Purdue when they dropped a 74-73 heartbreaker in West Lafayette three weeks ago.  Iowa was certainly able to get a bit of payback for that loss with their win today.

The game was a close, back-and-forth affair early, with neither team able to build much of an advantage until late in the half when Purdue opened up a 37-28 lead with three minutes to go.  Iowa was able to end the half on an 8-2 run, though, which kept the halftime deficit at a manageable four points (39-35).  The second half was also pretty close and a back-and-forth affair, as befits two evenly matched teams.  Purdue opened up a pair of multiple possession leads (56-49 and 69-63) but was never able to put Iowa away.  After Purdue opened up that 69-63 lead (with 6:20 to go), though, Iowa responded with a flourish, ending the game on a 24-11 run.

One key for Iowa's strong finish?  Good free throw shooting -- Iowa shot 14/16 from the line during that 24-11 run.  They regained the lead with free throws, kept the lead with free throws, and even built their lead out even further with free throws.  For the game, Iowa shot a stunning 22/24 (91.7%) from the line, which is sensational.  That number helped make up for some OK shooting from the field (30/69, 43.5%) and some so-so shooting from deep (5/16, 31.3%), although Iowa was pretty good from two-point range (25/53, 47.2%).  Also helping Iowa's cause?  20 turnovers and 24 fouls from the Boilermakers.  Thanks, OMHR!

All five Iowa starters scored in double figures, led by Melissa Dixon's 18 points.  Theairra Taylor had 17 points, 15 of which came in the first half, when she was the main scorer keeping Iowa afloat in the game.  Bethany Doolittle followed up her excellent game against Illinois (26 points) with a 16-point effort  here, while Samantha Logic and Ally Disterhoft each added 12 points for the Hawks.  Logic also had 11 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals -- just another day at the office, in other words.

CELEBRATE!

Up next for Iowa?  The semifinals.

Iowa plays Ohio State at 2:30 PM CT on Saturday. Iowa swept the Buckeyes this year, winning 81-74 in Columbus and 65-61 in Iowa City.  The Buckeyes are no pushover, though, as evidenced by the 99-82 beatdown they put on 1-seed Penn State earlier today.  Let's hope their shooting cools off a tad from the insanely hot level it was at against the Nittany Lions: OSU shot 62.1% from the field (36/58), including 55.6% from beyond the arc (10/18).  Although with the way these two teams are scoring so far in this Big Ten Tournament (81 and 87 for Iowa, 86 and 99 for Ohio State), we could be in store for one heck of a high-scoring affair on Saturday.

The good news for Iowa?  The game's on BTN.