Bluder’s Bunch falls in Happy Valley

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Jordan Hansen, [email protected]

 

The Bryce Jordan Center continued its unfriendly ways toward Iowa this season as the women’s basketball team lost, 81-68, their second loss to Penn State this year.

The Hawkeye men’s team was upset in the building on Feb. 17, and it wasn’t any friendlier on Wednesday night for head coach Lisa Bluder’s squad.

Iowa turned the ball over 22 times and couldn’t find enough of a rhythm to down the Nittany Lions.

“The turnovers killed us today,” Bluder said. “We just turned the ball over way too many times. Our posts were lackadaisical with the ball.”

Freshman Megan Gustafson and Tania Davis combined for 11 turnovers, and Chase Coley had 3.

The majority of those turnovers were in the first half, which helped Penn State roar out to a 22-13 first-quarter advantage it never looked back from. Nothing seemed to fall in the first half for Iowa as it faced an 18-point halftime deficit.

“That was a bad first half,” Bluder said. “We talked about how other teams had done it to us, and it was time to do it to someone else. We had a horrendous start to the game — I thought we looked scared, and I’m not sure why; we knew what to expect.”

Iowa came out better in the second half, outscoring Penn State by 5 points over the final two quarters. The Hawkeyes eventually brought the score within 7 in the middle of the fourth quarter, but two quick buckets at the other end put the game out of reach.

Ally Disterhoft led the Hawkeyes with 21 points on 13 shots and added 4 rebounds and 2 blocks. Iowa also got double-digit points from Gustafson (15) and Alexa Kastanek (13). Gustafson grabbed 11 rebounds, tallying her sixth double-double in the last nine games.

“Megan battled in there. She kind of started out the game looking kind of intimated a little bit,” Bluder said. “That contributed to the 5 turnovers she had, and that’s just way too many turnovers.”

Iowa had production from behind the arc — something that has been rare this season — making 7-of-22 attempts, but only 2 in the first half.

The loss drops the Hawkeyes to 17-12 on the season, 7-10 in the Big Ten. It also further complicates an already outside chance at making the program’s ninth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Iowa is listed as a “First Four Out” team in ESPN’s most recent NCAA tourney bracket, and a loss to Penn State — currently No. 131 in the RPI rankings — does not help the cause.

Only one regular-season game and the Big Ten Tournament are left for the Hawks to try to play their way into the tournament. The Hawkeyes will host Illinois on Saturday, with the game slated to tip off at 5:30 p.m.

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