The Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team have made the NCAA Tournament in six consecutive seasons, including all three during Nebraska’s time in the Big Ten.
But the Hawkeyes have not been able to figure out the riddle that is the Cornhuskers.
Iowa lost to Nebraska for the seventh consecutive time Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, dropping a 80-67 decision to the Huskers. The loss dropped the Hawkeyes to 5-4 in Big Ten play, tied for fourth in the conference.
Nebraska went on a 26-8 run in the middle of the game, spanning the final ten minutes of the first half and the first two minutes of the second half, turning a 19-19 tie into a commanding 47-29 lead for the Cornhuskers.
Hawkeye head coach Lisa Bluder was visably frustrated with the Hawkeyes’ performance, as Iowa allowed Nebraska guard Tear’a Laudermill to score a career-high 26 points, while All Big Ten forward Jordan Hooper added 25 points and 13 rebounds.
“We just could not stay with her, we did not have an answer for her,” Bluder said of Laudermill. ” And we all know how good Hooper is, and we could not shut her down, or even slow her down.”
The Hawkeyes, who entered Saturday as the top-scoring team in the Big Ten, were frustrated by the defensive approach of the Cornhuskers, especially on Melissa Dixon. Dixon did not score a point, missing all six of her shots, including five threes.
Nebraska head coach Connie Yori said defending Dixon was a major part of the Huskers’ game plan entering Iowa City
“We just tried not to leave her, and not give her any good looks,” Yori said. “She also missed a couple shots that she normally makes, but that’s basketball.”
Iowa’s offense came primarily from Samantha Logic, who poured in 22 points for the Hawkeyes, including five three-pointers. Logic hit four of her five triples in the second half in an effort to rally. The Hawkeyes, however, would come no closer than 11 in the second half.
Logic said she could feel her long-distance shot was on target Saturday, and felt it would be a detriment not to shoot the ball.
“The whole game, they were denying Melissa, and giving me the three,” Logic said. “After you hit a couple, you are feeling pretty confident, and you are kind of hurting your team if you’re feeling good and not taking those shots.”
When asked to explain the Huskers’ string of victories over the Hawkeyes, Yori could not come up with a response
“I don’t know, it’s kind of odd, frankly,” Yori said. “Iowa has been a very good basketball team, and we’ve played good basketball against them, and the vast majority of those games have been close.”
The Hawkeyes now travel to State College to take on the Big Ten’s top team, Penn State, on Tuesday. The Lady Lions are ranked No. 12 in the nation, and Bluder said it is a game that has the Hawkeyes in a vulnerable position.
“We obviously know we’re up against the wall going to Penn State,” Bluder said. “We’ve played well on the road, we’ve played better on the road than we have at home, so hopefully that’ll pull through.”