Late turnovers foil Iowa's upset bid at No. 13 Ohio State
Well, it happened again.
The Hawkeyes matched a top-tier Big Ten team blow-for-blow on the road — again.
They held a lead in the fourth quarter — again.
And they got nearly doubled up in the waning minutes to lose a heartbreaker — again.
Last Sunday, it was a 72-70 loss to now-No. 22 Michigan. This Sunday, it was an 88-81 loss to No. 13 Ohio State in its second game without starting point guard Tania Davis.
"I thought we came in here with probably silly confidence, really," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said after the game. "If the freshmen knew what they were up against, they probably wouldn't have come out with the confidence. And sometimes that can happen when you have freshmen — they don't know what they're up against.
"I think that they're just growing every day — getting better. I'm proud of their effort."
A pair of Megan Gustafson free throws put Iowa ahead, 70-69, with a little more than five minutes to go.
Over those final five minutes, Iowa coughed it up four times and the Buckeyes turned those opportunities into seven points (which proved to be the final margin), outscoring Iowa 18-12.
"That was the big turning point of this basketball game," Bluder said of the late turnovers.
Kelsey Mitchell, who scored just seven points through three, got eight of her 20 points in that final stretch. Shayla Cooper also scored 20, and Sierra Calhoun and Kiara Lewis combined for 30 off the bench.
Ally Disterhoft continued her torrid pace, netting 22 and seven boards. Gustafson never really found a consistent rhythm against Alexa Hart in the paint, but she still managed 17 points and 10 rebounds for her 13th double-double.
Makenzie Meyer notched her second career-high in as many games, racking up 16 on 6 of 7 shooting. She played most of the fourth-quarter point guard minutes; Kathleen Doyle picked up her fourth foul early in the final frame.
Iowa trailed, 55-44, midway through the third before chipping away and eventually taking the lead in the fourth.
"They're not going to give up," Bluder said. "They're just not going to do that.
"If we keep improving at the rate we are now, we're going to be a very good basketball team by the end of this month."
A win in Ohio would have gone a long way to securing the Hawkeyes an NCAA Tournament at-large invite. It probably would have gotten some top-25 votes in both polls, too.
The loss doesn't really hurt those at-large chances. If anything, Iowa's RPI might increase come Monday.
But it likely needs to win out against Northwestern (at home), Indiana (away), Purdue (away) and Wisconsin (at home) to feel comfortable in the bubble entering the Big Ten tournament.
Iowa drops to 15-10 and 6-6 in conference play — tied for seventh with Purdue.