Iowa's excellent adventure through the Big Ten Tournament continued Saturday with another solid win, this time over a red-hot Ohio State team that gave Iowa a slot in the championship game. Iowa and Ohio State entered the game scoring like crazy in the Big Ten Tournament (neither team had been held under 80 points in their four games in the tourney) and during the first half it seemed like we were on pace for another scoreboard-melting performance; Iowa had a 47-42 lead at the break. The pace -- and the scoring -- slowed down a bit in the second half; Iowa had only 31 points and Ohio State mustered just 30 points.
Iowa opened the game on a 12-3 run and maintained a lead throughout the first half, but Ohio State largely matched them punch for punch after that opening flurry. Iowa opened up a few 9-10 point leads in the second half, but again Ohio State was able to respond. Ohio State put together an 8-0 run late in the game to tie the score at 73-all with 2:02 to go. A game that Iowa had led the entire way and that had featured several sizable Iowa leads seemed on the verge of escaping their grasp... and then it didn't. The defense buckled down and got a handful of stops, Theairra Taylor made a crazy circus layup to give Iowa a lead, and Ally Disterhoft nailed a pair of free throws late to give seal the win.
That wasn't the only impressive circus layup that Taylor made, either.
Taylor led Iowa in scoring (21 points) and added 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist (and, in less exciting news, six turnovers) and made several key plays for Iowa. She wasn't alone, though -- Disterhoft had 18 points on 5/13 shooting (plus a team-high eight rebounds) and Doolittle continued her strong play in the BIg Ten Tournament by adding 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. She was also Iowa's most effective interior defender by far -- Ohio State torched Iowa in the in this game (at one point, I believe they had a 48-18 advantage in points in the paint), but Doolittle was the only Iowa defender who was able to slow down Ohio State's post players at all. Melissa Dixon had 16 points, 4 assists, and 2 rebounds for Iowa, while Sam Logic had a weird game: 1 point (on 0/4 shooting from the field) and just 3 rebounds. She had have 9 assists and 2 steals, though.
In the finals, Iowa will draw Nebraska, a team that's playing very well at the moment (Nebraska cruised past Minnesota, 80-67, and blasted Michigan State, 86-58, in the tourney so far) and a team that's been a difficult matchup for Iowa, both recently (Iowa lost to the Huskers 80-67 earlier this season) and overall (Bluder's Iowa teams have yet to beat Nebraska). Maybe Iowa's due for a win? Let's hope so. Iowa's also trying to make a bit of history -- no women's team has ever won four games in four days in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa basketball knows a thing or two about making history in that regard, though -- the Iowa men were the first team to accomplish that feat on the men's side back in 2001.
The bad news for Iowa? The game's not on BTN!
Sunday's game against Nebraska is at ESPN at noon Central time.