Iowa’s spot in the national rankings will most likely be short-lived. And turnovers are to blame.
The Hawkeye women turned it over 27 times and Illinois used a 14-2 run to end the contest Thursday night as the Fighting Illini beat the 24th ranked Hawkeyes, 74-62.
The Hawkeyes had reached the national rankings in both the Associated Press and the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll for the first time since 2011.
That appears to be over after just one game though as Illinois scored 30 points off Iowa’s miscues and four Fighting Illini players scored in double-figures.
Illinois was 11-for-15 from the line in the second half, while Iowa did not attempt a shot from the line in the final 20 minutes. The Hawkeyes were just 1-of-2 from the stripe in the game and Illinois was 13-of-19.
“Illinois played a heck of a game,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “They got to the line and we didn’t. We couldn’t draw fouls on them. That was not in our favor tonight.”
Illinois also had a big advantage from long range, making 11-of-24 from 3-point range. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, were 7-of-19.
“They played with a lot more confidence tonight and shot the ball better,” Bluder said. “Give Illinois credit. They just played better than we did tonight.”
Iowa (16-6, 5-3) held a small lead for the first 10 minutes of the first half, but an 11-0 run by Illinois gave the home team a double-digit lead. An 8-0 run by the Hawkeyes got them back into the contest but Iowa still trailed by three at the break.
It remained a tight ballgame through the first 15 minutes of the final half. Iowa had to rally from a seven-point deficit and the two teams were tied five different times before Illinois pulled away late.
With the game tied at 60 with 5:31 to play, the Fighting Illini scored 14 straight thanks to seven free throws. Karisma Penn, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds to lead Illinois, scored four straight in the middle of the late run and Alexis Smith buried three free throws in the final two minutes to seal the win.
The Illinois victory ended an eight-game skid against the Hawkeyes, who have not lost to a ranked team this year.
Iowa shot better from the field and won the rebounding battle, but the turnovers and lack of free throws hindered the Hawkeyes’ chances on the road.
Iowa was led by senior Jaime Printy and sophomore Samantha Logic, who both had 13 points in the loss. Logic also had 10 rebounds and six assists, but Printy and Logic combined to turn it over 15 times. It was the 10th double-double of Logic’s career.
Morgan Johnson had four fouls with 13 minutes to go in the game and never got going in the loss. She took just six shots and finished with six points and four rebounds.
Theairra Taylor had nine points and Bethany Doolittle added eight rebounds. Melissa Dixon scored 11 points off the bench and was 3-of-6 from long range.
Penn’s 18 points led the way for Illinois, while Adrienne GodBold and Amber Moore each scored 17. Ivory Crawford was the fourth player in double figures as she finished with 14 points. GodBold and Penn also combined to grab nine steals of Illinois’ 15 steals.
Iowa returns home to face Northwestern at 1 p.m. Sunday. It is the lone home game of a four-game stretch that started at Michigan and ends at Minnesota on Feb. 7.