IOWA CITY, Ia. — For more than 39 minutes on Sunday the second meeting between Iowa and Indiana followed the same script as the first.
This time Iowa flipped the script in the final seconds.
After letting a 17-point, third-quarter lead slip away in a five-point loss to the Hoosiers earlier this month, Iowa held off a late Indiana rally Sunday in a 76-73 win in front of a season-high crowd of 9,838 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Ally Disterhoft had a team-high 19 points for Iowa (17-11, 7-9 Big Ten) and hit two free throws with 15.4 seconds left to help secure the win.
Indiana had two shots to tie the game on its final possession, but Karlee McBride and Tyra Buss both missed 3-pointers as Iowa avenged a 79-74 loss to the Hoosiers on Feb. 4.
“Earlier this season we just weren’t able to close out games and to be able to withstand a couple of runs in these past two games and still be able to close them out and get the wins has been huge for us,” Disterhoft said. “I think we are making steps forward each game and that’s what we are looking to do."
The win was the second straight for Iowa, which is tied with Rutgers for ninth in the Big Ten standings with two games remaining.
In addition to Disterhoft, four Iowa players scored in double figures. Tania Davis added 17 points and Chase Coley, Megan Gustafson and Whitney Jennings all had 10.
The win kept Iowa’s drive for a 9-9 conference record alive and was a shot in the arm for the Hawkeyes’ NCAA Tournament chances.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Indiana (18-10, 10-6).
“There is some pressure on so you’re really happy when your team responds to that pressure,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
The first half was a near replay of the first meeting in Bloomington, with Iowa building a 15-point halftime lead behind a big second quarter.
Iowa trailed 9-0 less than a minute and a half into the game and 20-19 after the opening quarter.
“Basically the message was, that was an awful minute and a half (to start the game) and the good news is we have 38-and-a-half minutes that we can change things,” Bluder said. “It was just really more of a, 'let’s get this together and we can change this, and let’s not let it keep rolling.' ”
Iowa wasted little time changing things.
The Hawkeyes opened the second quarter on a 20-2 run to take control of the game, and this time they never let the lead slip away.
Iowa outscored Indiana 24-8 in the second quarter and led 43-28 at the half.
Davis was a big part of the Hawkeyes' second-quarter success, scoring 11 of her 17 points in the second quarter.
“I was just more aggressive,” Davis said. “I feel like in the first quarter I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been, especially since they were playing off of me and doubling the post and other guards like Ally and I was just more aggressive looking for my shots and looking to create and get Ally open and get Ally touches and get the posts touches.”
Just as it did in the first meeting, Indiana came back.
The Hoosiers cut the lead to 59-53 after three quarters and pulled to within one at 74-73 on a three-point play by Amanda Cahill with 50 seconds left.
Megan Gustafson came up with an offensive rebound following a Whitney Jennings miss on the ensuing Iowa possession and Disterhoft knocked down a pair of free throws with 15.4 left to make it 76-73.
McBride got a clean look from the right wing and Buss got off another 3-point shot after an offensive rebound, but neither would go as Iowa escaped.
“I have complete confidence in our team, we are a young team but I think we have taken steps to improve and we are really starting to put it together so at no point did I think about that past game,” Disterhoft said. “I was completely confident we would pull it out.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.