After dropping a close game at Maryland on Sunday, Iowa returned home Thursday night to face Ohio State in a key Big Ten game. Iowa entered the game at 8-2 after losing to the Terrapins, with the Buckeyes hot on their heels at 7-3. With the league's two other 7-3 teams (Nebraska and Rutgers) also squaring off last night, there was an opportunity for Iowa to create some distance between themselves and two of the three teams lurking behind them in third place. Fortunately, Iowa took advantage of that opportunity with a 73-65 win over the Buckeyes, solidifying their hold on second place in the Big Ten.
It was a good win, but it certainly wasn't a very aesthetically pleasing win. Iowa and Ohio State combined for 38 (!) turnovers, 21 to Ohio State and 17 to Iowa, and 32 fouls (18 for Ohio State, 14 for Iowa). This was a herky-jerky (uh, no pun intended) game with very little flow or rhythm. Ohio State opened up the game on a quick 6-2 run, but Iowa eventually used a 21-2 run in the first half to build a lead they held for the remainder of the game. They led 41-29 at halftime and appeared on the verge of blowing out the Buckeyes, but sloppy turnovers and some unusual scoring droughts let Ohio State climb back into the game. The Buckeyes chopped Iowa's lead down to one on two separate occasions in the second half, but were never able to tie the game or re-take the lead.
Ally Disterhoft led all scorers with 21 points (on 6/18 shooting) and added 6 rebounds to that tally. Bethany Doolittle also had a strong game, with 19 points and 13 rebounds (6 offensive), though it could have been even better -- she shot just 9/20 and most of the misses were of the point blank variety. Melissa Dixon chipped on 13 (on 3/7 shooting from deep) and Whitney Jennings added 12 points. Sam Logic might have had a triple double with better shooting and an extra rebound - she finished with 6 points (on dreadful 2/10 shooting), 12 assists, and 9 rebounds. (She also threatened a quadruple double, unfortunately -- she had 7 ugly turnovers to go along with the points, assists, and rebounds.)
While the game was very sloppy at times, Iowa's defense showed some much-needed improvement after the last two games, the shootout win over Northwestern and the shootout loss to Maryland. Iowa held Ohio State to 39.4% shooting and just 29.4% (5/17) from deep and helped force many of those 21 Ohio State turnovers. Most impressively, the Hawkeyes held the leading scorer in the NCAA, OSU freshman Kelsey Mitchell to 15 points, 11 points below her season average. Iowa also out-rebounded an opponent (46-43) for the first time in six games.
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: #16 Iowa's Balanced Scoring and Stingy Defense Leads to Win Over Ohio State http://t.co/bQatdPjzSL— Iowa Women's BBall (@IowaWBB) February 6, 2015
NEXT: Iowa heads on the road to face Wisconsin (8-13 overall, 4-7 in B1G) on Sunday at 2 PM CT (BTN Plus).