Iowa women bounce back with win over Purdue
Purdue's plan to limit the red-hot Melissa Dixon worked.
The nation's leading 3-point shooter, Dixon had just two triples Sunday but still poured in a game-high 18 points as No. 17 Iowa gutted out a 73-59 win over Purdue (9-7, 2-3 Big Ten) in front of 7,349 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
As Purdue guarded against Dixon on the perimeter, the senior did her damage inside the 3-point arc.
Dixon had a pair of conventional 3-point plays and led a trio of Hawkeyes in double figures as Iowa improved to 12-3 on the season and 3-1 in Big Ten play.
"She had five two‑point baskets tonight and got fouled on one, a three‑point play, which is always exciting. She got one the old‑fashioned way," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "We should probably really celebrate that, wow, that might be a first this year on that."
Bluder may have kidded Dixon about her two-point prowess after the game but the senior's offensive production has been no joke the past month.
The 18 points by Dixon on Sunday marked the fifth consecutive game the senior has scored at least 18.
As the Boilermakers overplayed against Dixon around the 3-point line but she beat her defender with back cuts to the basket multiple times for layups.
Dixon finished 7-of-14 from the field and 2-of-7 from beyond the 3-point line.
"They were definitely overplaying me and we set up some backdoor cuts," Dixon said. "Coaches talked to me a lot about really setting up the cuts so it's open and Sam (Logic) had a lot of nice passes to me in the lane."
The 18 points from Dixon helped Iowa bounce back from a disappointing loss at Illinois on Thursday.
Iowa got 17 points from sophomore Ally Disterhoft and 15 from Bethany Doolittle as the Hawkeyes avoided losing back-to-back games for the first time since last January.
"We didn't play our best at Illinois and we knew coming into today that we had to turn it around and bounce back," Dixon said. "Coach challenged us to work hard the days leading up to today's game and we did and I think we handled adversity and came out really strong today."
Dixon snapped a 16-all tie and gave Iowa a lead it would never give up with nine points in a row in the first half.
Back-to-back transition 3-pointers by Dixon gave Iowa a 22-19 lead.
After a basket by Ashley Morrissette cut the lead to 22-21, Dixon converted her first conventional 3-point play of the game to give the Hawkeyes a 25-21 lead they would never give up.
Doolittle and Disterhoft each had four points during an 8-0 run late in the first half that helped Iowa to a 37-27 halftime advantage.
Purdue got as close as six points at 44-38 just over four minutes into the second half, but Iowa scored the next five points to push the lead back to 11.
Samantha Logic hit a pull-up jumper and then found Dixon, who was fouled converting a layup and completed the 3-point play to give the Hawkeyes a 49-38 lead.
"I think it's a lot of timing, and then Sam's assist, hitting her on those backdoor cuts," Bluder said of Dixon's 3-point plays. "If they take one thing away you've got to take advantage of something else."
Purdue never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Iowa entered the game leading the Big Ten and ranked eighth nationally in 3-point field goals but was just 4-of-18 from 3-point range Sunday.
That didn't stop the Hawkeyes, who hit 17-of-19 free throws and committed just nine turnovers while limiting Purdue to 34.5 percent shooting.
"We've been known sometimes to win with our three‑point shot, and it's kind of nice to win with something else — free throws and defense," Bluder said.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on twitter at @rmmurken.