A big first half in front of its largest crowd in more than two years helped propel the Iowa women’s basketball team to a blowout win over No. 12 Purdue on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 17-3 lead and led by as many as 23 during a 62-46 shellacking of the Boilermakers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of 8, 576 fans – the most since 9,865 watched Iowa play Ohio State in January of 2011.
“I think our team kind of embraces the underdog role a little bit. I think for some reason, we enjoy being in that role,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I just think maybe it’s a sharper focus, and we know we can do it. That’s always part of the battle, too, is you know we can compete with top 25 teams.”
The win was career victory No. 600 for Bluder and the fifth win over a top 25 program this year for the Hawkeyes. They are 5-0 in those games.
“Here’s what I told the team: Any time that you reach one of these kind of milestones, yes, it means you’ve been around a long time, but it also gives you an opportunity to reflect on the women that you’ve been able to coach, and I have some even from Drake here tonight, and that is really neat,” Bluder said. “I think about all those kids from St. Ambrose and Drake and here at Iowa, and you just remember all those women that were a part of your life, and that just gives you time to do that.”
The victory improves Iowa to 13-5 on the season and 3-2 in Big Ten Conference play. Purdue falls to 15-3 overall and the loss was its first in league play.
“Well, it just seems like maybe we need to play everybody in the top 25, being 5 0 against top 25 opponents,” Bluder said. “But it was a really nice victory. After coming off that loss against Michigan State, it just — I can’t express to you how good it feels to get a good victory tonight.”
The key to the win Sunday was the fast start and a big advantage in 3-point shooting.
Iowa led 7-0, 17-3 and then 24-9 before pushing the lead to 23 following a Sam Logic jumper with 1:15 to play in the first half. Purdue cut the lead to nine with 5:26 to play in the game but an 8-0 run by the Hawkeyes finished off another quality win.
“I think Melissa had a big 3 when they got within nine, and that was a big boost,” Bluder said. “We hadn’t had a basket for a while, and I think to get that basket got the crowd involved, too, and I think that was huge momentum for us.”
The Hawkeyes also hit 9-of-16 from long range, while Purdue was just 3-of-18.
Jaime Printy and Melissa Dixon each had 15 points to lead the way for Iowa. Printy also had nine rebounds and was 3-for-3 from behind the 3-point line. She also moved into second all-time in 3-point makes at Iowa with 262, passing former teammate Kamille Wahlin. Lindsey Meder is the all-time leader at 261.
No other Hawkeye scored in double-figures but Theairra Taylor had nine points and 10 rebounds, while Bethany Doolittle added eight points, nine boards and three blocks. Logic finished with 10 assists in the win.
Morgan Johnson came into the game leading the Hawkeyes in both scoring and rebounding but was just 3-of-14 from the field and finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Purdue’s only double-digit scorer was Courtney Moses, who finished with 11 points. Drey Mingo did have nine points and eight boards, while Taylor Manuel contributed 12 boards. The Boilermakers also were just 1-of-6 from the line.
“I think our team had a tremendous respect for Purdue coming in. Their only two losses were to Notre Dame and UConn coming in,” Bluder said. “I just think that our team was very focused defensively, and it’s not like we set out, we’re going to stop this one person. It wasn’t like that. It was basically let’s all improve all of our defense, and it wasn’t like a key on this certain individual or anything like that. I don’t know if I’m answering that.”
The Iowa women return to the court Thursday when the Hawkeyes take on Wisconsin at 7 p.m. inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes already defeated the Badgers, 65-56 in Madison, Wis., about 10 days ago.