WBB: Hawkeyes Climb Back From 18 Down To Keep NCAA Hopes Alive
By Michael Bonner, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Before the shot, Jaime Printy made 1 of 9 attempts beyond the arc. None of her nine attempts induced more pressure than her 10th. Iowa had battled back from 18 down to tie the game at 62.
As the senior shooting guard rose up from the right wing, fellow senior Trisha Nesbitt jogged to the back court.
As the ball traveled to the rim, Nesbitt crossed half court. It's a shot she'd seen Printy make countless times, 1 for 9 or not.
"I was already running back on defense," Nesbitt said. "I was already getting back in the hole, because I knew it was going in."
Printy made good on Nesbitt's faith and buried the 3. It jolted Iowa into its second lead of the game. Indiana (11-17, 2-13) answered with a 3 of its own, but the Hawkeyes (18-11, 7-8) didn't trail again, holding on for a 75-70 win Thursday in Carver Hawkeye Arena in front of 4,137.
Iowa took its first lead off a Melissa Dixon layup. Unlike Printy, the sophomore felt it all night. Her reverse lay-in gave Iowa a 62-60 lead and netted her team-high 22nd point.
The layup not only gave Iowa the lead but completed a comeback that erased an 18 point deficit. At 36-18, Dixon ignited that comeback reeling off the next 14 points for her team, including four 3s.
"I love playing with these seniors so much that I was willing to do whatever it took to win the game," Dixon said. "I didn't want them to go off on a loss."
Dixon's barrage also wrestled Iowa's offense out of hibernation. Iowa began the game shooting 2 of 10. At the time of Dixon's run, the Hawkeyes stood at 6 of 21 shooting. When Dixon finished, she had sliced Iowa's deficit in half.
"It's such a great feeling to have a spark off the bench like that," Printy said. "When she gets hot, she gets hot."
Dixon came up one point shy of a new career high. She also stopped the bleeding enough in the first half to allow Iowa to battle back in the second. The Hawkeyes shot 61 percent in the second half. Morgan Johnson and Printy – both seniors – and Theirra Taylor, who came to Iowa in the same freshmen class, each poured in 11. It came after a first half where the trio combined for 10.
"I'm happy for our seniors that went out victorious. We're down 18 in the first half, it didn't look so good," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "But our team kept believing, kept fighting, kept working hard. We didn't panic."
Despite the lights-out shooting, Iowa didn't boast the hottest hand in the arena. Indiana's Aulani Sinclair finished with 31 points on 12 of 22 shooting, including 7 of 11 from deep. She closed the game scoring her team's final 10 points, including buckets to tie the game at 62 and 65.
But the Hawkeyes had the decisive answer – whether down 18 or shooting 1 for 9 which was never in doubt.
"Yeah, we were down 18, but it was senior night, we were playing for a lot on the line," Printy said. "We just kept believing."