IOWA CITY - Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said she wanted her team to walk before they started to run. That was in hope of cutting down on turnovers, which had plagued the Hawkeyes in their three losses this season.
Walking certainly fixed the problem Saturday as the Hawkeyes turned it over just nine times and dominated the paint during a 68-46 victory over in-state rival Northern Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"We needed to slow things down and get into our offense," Bluder said. "We had to get our turnover issue under control."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Iowa’s Samantha Logic (22) scores two of her 15 points in the Hawkeyes’ 68-46 win over Northern Iowa on Saturday.
The Hawkeyes (6-3) outscored the Panthers 34-4 inside the paint, and Northern Iowa did not score its first 2-pointer until the 1:51 mark of the first half.
A big reason for the dominance was senior post Morgan Johnson, who recorded her third double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. The Hawkeyes also out-rebounded the shorter Panthers, 43-31.
"We have Morgan Johnson, and she makes life easier for us," Bluder said in response to a question about the paint dominance. "She's a good target and her teammates have a lot of confidence passing her the ball. They tried to double team her but it just didn't matter today."
The game was much closer than the score would indicate. UNI (3-4) trailed by just six points at halftime, and the Hawkeyes did not put the game away until they outscored the Panthers 18-6 in the final 8 minutes.
Triggering the late run was sophomore Sam Logic, who finished with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists with just one turnover. She turned it over 10 times against Florida State in the Hawkeyes' most previous outing.
"Sam made good decisions," Bluder said. "She kind of let the game come to her instead of coming to the game. She really controlled the tempo for us and allowed us to get into our offense."
The Panthers stayed close in the first half with solid shooting from long range. While they didn't find the bucket on 2-point shots, they did bury four triples in the first 20 minutes to stay within six points. The Panthers finished just 8-of-29 from long range though and never got much going offensively against Iowa's bigger, stronger lineup.
"They have a lot of weapons, and we tried to pick our poison with them," Northern Iowa coach Tanya Warren said. "We did a pretty good job defensively, but we struggled offensively and that eventually took a toll on our defense.
"Their size certainly bothered us. It just wasn't our night."
Northern Iowa shot just 22 percent from the field in the game and missed its first 10 shots from inside the 3-point line. Brooke Brown led the Panthers with 12 points, while Amber Kirschbaum had eight points and 11 rebounds. Former AGWSR prep Jess McDowell was 3-for-8 from 3-point range and scored nine points in 30 minutes.
Iowa held Jacqui Kalin to just nine points on 2-of-13 shooting. She came into the game averaging better than 19 points per game.
"We got good shots," said Kalin, who did have eight rebounds and four assists. "We didn't hit the open shots and that is on us."
Logic scored 13 points in the second half for Iowa and Johnson had six points during the 18-6 spurt that put the game away for the Hawkeyes. Johnson will end her Iowa career having never lost to Northern Iowa.
"It's a good rivalry and a big game for us," said Johnson, who also finished with a career-high five assists. "We want to win that state title and this helped us start that process. It feels good."
Iowa only had one day to prepare for UNI, but will have three full days of practice to get ready for its second straight in-state game. The Hawkeyes face nationally ranked Iowa State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday.
"Three days to prepare for Iowa State is a luxury we have not had since our opener against Northern Illinois," Bluder said. "That will be nice to have some time to prepare. We'll look hard at Iowa State, but we also will work on things that can make us better, too."