Taiwo provides spark in Iowa’s 87-81 win over Purdue

Junior guard Tomi Taiwo played a pivotal role for the Hawkeyes’ defense on Monday afternoon as Iowa overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to beat Purdue, 87-81.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa guard Tomi Taiwo goes for a layup during a women’s basketball game against Purdue on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers 87-81.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

After struggling on the defensive end of the floor for two-straight games, Iowa women’s basketball sured up its defense and picked up a win over Purdue, 87-81, on Monday. With the victory, the Hawkeyes improve to 9-3 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play.

The win also snaps a two-game skid that saw Iowa lose to No. 22 Northwestern on the road and No. 15 Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The loss to the Buckeyes was particularly pertinent as Iowa’s 42-game home win streak was snapped.

Iowa lagged defensively for much of the Monday’s game too, but a change in strategy helped the Hawkeyes play lockdown defense late in the game, leading to a 17-2 run that helped them outlast the Boilermakers in the fourth quarter.

“It started on defense again for us, and I think that’s always where it’s going to start,” freshman point guard Caitlin Clark said. “When we play defense, we’re a great team.”

Clark was on the bench in the final minutes of the game as junior Tomi Taiwo took over the point guard position for defensive purposes.

“In that situation, the defense that we we’re in, the group that we had out on the floor was the best for us,” Bluder said. “We were preaching defense at that point, and so I think we had to go with our best defensive team.”

Taiwo has sparingly seen game action this season, playing approximately 62 minutes in Iowa’s first 12 games – roughly a five-minutes-per-game average. So far, Taiwo has only appeared in six of Iowa’s games in 2020-21.

Last season, Taiwo played in 27 games, accumulating 207 minutes – nearly an eight-minutes-per-game average.

After registering nearly 11 minutes in Iowa’s loss to Ohio State on Wednesday, Taiwo came off the bench and played 15 minutes for the Hawkeyes on Monday, recording five points on 2-of-4 shooting and two rebounds. Defensively, Taiwo recorded a block and a steal in the Hawkeyes’ win over Purdue.

According to Bluder, Taiwo’s recent performance in practice has helped her earn more minutes in vital situations of late.

“I thought Tomi did a really good job defensively for us,” Bluder said. “That’s why she’s in there, honestly, she’s proving it on the defensive end in practice.”

Taiwo’s teammates also have high praise for her.

“I give a lot of props to Tomi Taiwo, obviously,” sophomore forward McKenna Warnock said. “She had some really good defense when she came in, some really lockdown defense.”

Per Clark, Taiwo’s experience and leadership always give the Hawkeyes a boost.

“Tomi came in and gave us some really good minutes off the bench,” Clark said. “Not only defensively, but offensively she runs the offense, she knows what she’s doing … I think she’s just confident, she has experience which is huge, so just having her come off the bench and give us those great minutes has been huge for us.”

The Hawkeyes’ next game is the first leg of a two-game road trip, as Iowa travels to Maryland to take on the No. 7 Terrapins Thursday at 4 p.m. The Hawkeyes will then venture to Piscataway, New Jersey, for a matchup with Rutgers Jan. 24. Both games will air on the Big Ten Network.

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