Iowa junior Theairra Taylor hasn’t had many big moments during her career at the University of Iowa.
Strapped by injuries throughout her career, she hasn’t been able to have many signatures moments for the black and gold.
One of those moments, however, happened Thursday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as she scored the first six points in overtime to lead the Hawkeyes to a 77-71 win over No. 24 Ohio State in the Big Ten opener.
“Well, obviously a good win for us,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I don’t think we played our best game of the year, but we played well enough to beat another top 25 team.”
Taylor finished with a career-high 19 points and four rebounds and was 8-of-12 from the floor.
Three other Hawkeyes scored in double-figures for Iowa, who blew a 13-point second-half lead thanks to 34 points from Ohio State standout Tayler Hill.
Morgan Johnson had another double-double for Iowa, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds. She buried two free throws with 20 seconds to left to tie the game and Ohio State missed three shots in the closing seconds that would have won the game.
In overtime, Taylor scored the first six points for Iowa to give the Hawkeyes a 69-65 lead and then Jaime Printy converted a layup and Sam Logic made four free throws in the final 37 seconds to seal the win.
“I think in overtime, we were not going to be denied,” Bluder said. ”Theairra played outstanding, got to the rim, made her free throws, did a super job for us. It was fun. I’ve been waiting for everybody to have the opportunity to watch Theairra Taylor play like she did tonight. It’s a lot of fun.”
It was the seventh straight victory for Iowa, which improved to 12-3 on the season. But more importantly, it began the conference slate with a win on its home floor and will get the chance to move to 2-0 at home Sunday afternoon against Michigan.
“Just starting out the Big Ten with some momentum, that’s really good for us, too,” Bluder said. “We had the opportunity to build on it with another home game on Sunday. We’re going to keep letting them know we’re the underdogs and we’ll keep chipping away at it.”
Logic finished with 17 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Printy added 14 points. Bethany Doolittle finished with eight points but also had six blocks, five rebounds and three steals.
Darryce Moore and Raven Ferguson each had nine points off the Ohio State bench, while Buckeye starter Ameryst Alston also had nine points.
The Buckeyes made 40 percent of their shots and was 6-for-21 from long range. Iowa won the game despite attempting four and making just two 3-pointers in the game.
The Hawkeyes also shot 52 percent from the floor in the game. It was the third time Iowa has shot better than 50 percent in the last four games. Logic now has 32 assists in the last three games as well.
Iowa led by as many as 13 in the second half. The Hawkeyes led by six early in the game before a 10-0 run by Ohio State put the Buckeyes in front by four.
Iowa began the second half on a 13-2 run to go up 47-36 and then led 55-42 following a Taylor jumper with 9:55 to play in the game.
“Theairra showed she can beat anybody off the dribble,” Bluder said. “She can elevate, shoot over people. She hit the free throws for us. She had a couple defensive stops at the end that were really important, got the ball back in her hands at the end of the game. That was clutch. She just had a really nice game.”
Ohio State got back in the game and took a one-point lead following an 18-5 run.
The last time Iowa beat four top 25 teams in one season was in the 1995-96 season when the Hawkeyes knocked off seven ranked foes.
“Every game is going to be so important because it’s a battle,” Bluder said. “That’s why the home court is very important. Going on the road is tough in the Big Ten.”