Third win over Nebraska has Iowa women in semifinals
Iowa's regular season-sweep of Nebraska went a long way toward erasing a painful past with its Big Ten neighbor to the west.
The Hawkeyes took care of any lingering Husker-induced heartache on Friday.
No. 14 Iowa (24-6) defeated Nebraska for the third time this season, and for the first time ever in Big Ten Tournament play, earning a 74-65 quarterfinal win over the Cornhuskers at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
"Nebraska has taken us out the last three years of the Big Ten Tournament, so you keep that in the back of your mind and we were just trying to change the tides on that," Iowa guard Samantha Logic said. "We did that during the regular season and so we tried to carry that over into the tournament here just so we can keep our tournament run going."
Iowa's third consecutive win over Nebraska (21-10) comes after Iowa lost its first eight Big Ten games against the Cornhuskers.
The Cornhuskers handed the Hawkeyes a 72-65 setback in last year's title game.
The Hawkeyes will face third-seeded Ohio State on Saturday in the semifinals.
"Coach talked to us before the game about how they had really had our number the last couple of years," sophomore Ally Disterhoft said. "The seniors had been knocked out by Nebraska in every Big Ten Tournament so far, so we really wanted to come out and get that win."
Disterhoft led four players in double figures with 16 points as Iowa won its third straight game.
Bethany Doolittle had 15 points and nine rebounds in just 22 minutes while battling foul trouble and Logic finished with 15 points and six assists for Iowa.
Junior Kali Peschel added 13 points off the bench and had three of Iowa's six 3-pointers as Nebraska held senior Melissa Dixon to seven points on five field-goal attempts.
"The thing that challenges you with Iowa is that it's not just about Melissa Dixon," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "They've got great scorers, any one of those starters can score double figures or could get 15 on a given night or more. That's what challenges you. If you put your full focus on Dixon, well, you're giving something else up."
The seventh-seeded Cornhuskers shot 61.7 percent, the second-highest shooting percentage in Big Ten Tournament history, in an 86-71 win over Illinois in its opener on Thursday.
Iowa led 9-2 less than two minutes into the game before Nebraska hit eight consecutive field-goal attempts to take a 20-17 lead on a Natalie Romeo 3-pointer with 14:21 left in the first half.
The lead didn't last long.
Iowa tied the score at 22-all on a Peschel 3-pointer two minutes later and never trailed again.
"When teams come out and shoot crazy, you gotta remind your players that it's going to level off," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "I mean, statistics are there for a reason. It's going to level off sooner or later."
After an Emily Cady layup tied the score at 24-all, Iowa held Nebraska without a point for nearly five minutes while taking a 31-24 lead.
The Huskers never got closer than three points the rest of the game.
Iowa limited the Cornhuskers to a 32.4 percent shooting.
"I think what makes them better this year is that I think they're a better defensive team than they were," Yori said. "They've always been a really good scoring team, and that hasn't changed, but I think now defensively they're that much better."
Tear'a Laudermill scored 16 points for Nebraska while Cady added 15 points and eight rebounds.
Nebraska outrebounded Iowa by 31 in last year's Big Ten Tournament title game and by 18 in the most recent meeting in Lincoln.
Led by Disterhoft and Doolittle with nine rebounds each, Iowa held a 48-39 rebounding edge.
"I think the boards were huge for us," Bluder said. "They outrebounded us the last two times so it was important for us to get those boards."