Iowa likely needs to be perfect in its final four games of the Big Ten regular season to keep its string of NCAA tournament appearances intact.
So far so good.
Iowa held Purdue scoreless for the final 4:33 and scored the final eight points in a 63-55 win over the Boilermakers at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win snapped a four-game losing skid for Iowa (16-11, 6-9) and avenged a 90-73 loss to the Purdue (16-10, 7-8) on Jan. 24.
“We needed that,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We just needed that breath of fresh air that ability to get that win on our home court and now get on a little bit of a roll at the end of the year. That is a team that we lost to by 17 just a couple of weeks ago.”
Megan Gustafson scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half and Chase Coley added 14 points and seven rebounds as Iowa won for the first time in February.
Tania Davis and Ally Disterhoft both added 12 points for Iowa which won despite not making a 3-point field goal for the first time this season.
Instead Iowa relied on defense, holding Purdue to a Big Ten season-low 55 points on 36 percent shooting.
“Last time, I hate to say it, they shot 58 percent against us last time we played them, they put 90 on us last time and it was a big difference today,” Bluder said. “I thought our zone was very good. I thought we protected the paint with the zone and we didn’t give them any easy ones.”
Iowa’s defense was never better than the final five minutes.
Purdue tied the score at 55 on a jumper by Ashley Morrissette with 4:33 left but would never score again.
Iowa took the lead on a pair of free throws by Tania Davis with 3:35 left and never looked back.
Davis sealed the deal with a steal and assist that led to a Whitney Jennings layup and two more free throws in the final 1:12 as Iowa ended the game on an 8-0 run.
“I think that’s very important, it just shows us that we can close out the game and that is something that we have kind of been preaching on lately,” Disterhoft said. “Anytime you can go on a run like that it gives your team a lot of momentum and obviously that was important in this game, but that is momentum that we can carry into these upcoming games as well.”
Purdue missed its final six field goal attempts and had two of its 17 turnovers in the final 4:33.
The Boilermakers also didn’t manage an offensive rebound in the final 4:33 and had just one in the fourth quarter after grabbing 15 offensive boards in the first three quarters.
“We just came together in the last four minutes and said this is the last four minutes of the game, it’s the last four minutes we are going to get to play Purdue this season lets go out and win this,” Coley said. “We said lets get a W, it’s been a while.”
Iowa led 32-27 at the half and built a 45-35 lead when Coley hit a 17-foot jumper with 3:42 left in the 3rd quarter.
Purdue responded with a 14-2 run to close the quarter that gave the Boilermakers a 49-47 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
That lead didn’t last long.
Gustafson scored on the Hawkeye’s first two possessions of the fourth quarter to give Iowa 51-49 lead.
“I think it’s really good momentum to have this game especially since we have had a rough patch,” Gustafson said.”We really came together as a team.”
Andreona Keys and April Wilson each had 14 points to lead Purdue which lost its fifth straight game.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.