Defense lifts Hawkeyes to unusual win at Michigan State
This time, once Iowa got a lead on the road, the Hawkeyes made sure to never let it go.
After letting a 14-point advantage slip away in its last road game, No. 22 Iowa avoided a similar fate on Sunday, holding on for a 52-50 win over Michigan State in front of nearly 9,000 fans at the Breslin Center.
Melissa Dixon and Samantha Logic each had 13 points for Iowa as the Hawkeyes won in East Lansing for the first time since 2004.
"It's been a long time since we've won here," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "It's been 11 years since we have won here, and any road Big Ten win is wonderful."
Sunday's win was the third straight for Iowa since it squandered a 14-point lead in a 73-61 road loss to Illinois on Jan. 8. Iowa improved to 14-3 on the season and 5-1 in Big Ten play, matching its best conference start since the 1997-1998 season.
The Hawkeyes won despite shooting 33 percent from the floor and matching a season-low with 52 points. Iowa entered the game leading the Big Ten in 3-pointers made and was second in the nation in 3-point percentage at 39.8 percent.
The Hawkeyes hit just 3-of-19 3-point attempts on Sunday, but outrebounded the Spartans (9-9, 1-6) 41-38 and held Michigan State to 32 percent shooting.
Iowa won for the first time this season when scoring fewer than 70 points.
"Obviously, we didn't have a great shooting night and ended up turning the ball over a couple too many times down the stretch in the last eight minutes, but we found a way to win," Logic said. "Michigan State is a very good basketball team, and playing at home with a great crowd today, we are always going to take an ugly win over a pretty loss."
Trailing 11-6 more than six minutes into the game, Iowa used a 9-0 run to take a 15-11 lead it would never give up.
Iowa held Michigan State scoreless for more than four minutes during the nine-point spurt that was capped by a Bethany Doolittle basket with 10:28 left in the first half.
The Hawkeyes led 31-27 at the break, and never let Michigan State pull even in the second half.
Iowa went nearly nine minutes without a field goal to end the game, after Kali Peschel's driving layup with 8:59 left gave the Hawkeyes a 46-38 lead.
Melissa Dixon hit 4-of-5 free throws in the final 2:43, including two with 7.8 seconds left, that gave Iowa a three-point lead to seal an escape.
"It wasn't Iowa basketball. It's not the way that we traditionally win, but a win is a win," Bluder said. "We won with defense and rebounding today, which are two areas that have been up-and-down for us in the past."
Ally Disterhoft and Peschel each had seven rebounds as Iowa won the rebounding battle for just the second time in its past 14 games.
"We can win with defense," Bluder said. "Our players need to know that, and they need to feel good about it. We can win when we defend and when we outrebound the opponents. We can win even when our offense isn't flowing like it normally does."
Aerial Powers was the lone Michigan State player in double figures, notching a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Tori Jankoska finished with seven points, 10 below her season average, as Iowa held Michigan State to 19-of-58 shooting and forced 17 turnovers.
"It's huge," Logic said of the win. "They are such a good team and they are so much better than what their record is showing right now."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.