COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For the first 15 minutes of their game at No. 8 Ohio State, the Iowa Hawkeyes played almost flawlessly. But then the Buckeyes awakened and coach Lisa Bluder’s team never recovered in an 84-71 loss on Monday. “When they did make the run, we did address it: Every good team makes a run at you,” Bluder said. “We just didn’t move on or handle those game swings very well.” The Hawkeyes (9-6, 1-1 Big Ten) had taken control at the outset, cycling passes around the perimeter to open shooters while the Buckeyes (15-0, 2-0) struggled to guard them. Even when they missed, Morgan Johnson, who finished with 25 points, was there to score on a putback.
Johnson made two free throws to cap a 6-0 run for a 9-4 lead. Then on consecutive possessions Kelly Krei and Jaime Printy, who finished with 13 points, had 3-pointers pushing the Iowa advantage to 22-12. Another 3 by Krei and Printy’s driving layup boosted the led to 37-22 — with the Hawkeyes in control of the ball and under 5 minutes left in the half. But just that quickly, the game swiveled Ohio State’s way. “Their crowd got into it,” Johnson said. “They hit a 3, we hit a layup and then they hit another 3. We got back on our heels and they started lighting it up.”
Samantha Prahalis, who led the Buckeyes with 30 points, and Tayler Hill, who chipped in with 28, were the main culprits for Ohio State, off to its best start in the NCAA era. “For them to account for 58 of their team’s points is amazing,” Bluder said. The Buckeyes scored 23 of the next 26 points to take the lead and then pulled away. Shooting 35 percent behind the arc coming in, Ohio State made 10 of 15 3-pointers, including 4 of 6 by Prahalis and 5 of 7 by Big Ten scoring leader Hill. Prahalis had 13 points in the 23-3 run, with Hill scoring eight and Ashley Adams two. Prahalis, who finished with seven assists, had the helping pass on three of her teammates’ buckets in the streak.
“They started hitting their shots in transition,” said Iowa’s Kamille Wahlin, who had 17 points. “Transition is really their game. Prahalis and Hill push it so well. Once they got that confidence going, it’s hard to stop them.” Hill, who finished the half with 15 points, had eight straight points for the Buckeyes at one point — including back-to-back 3-pointers that seemed to energize the Buckeyes. Ohio State didn’t let up to start the second half, either. Prahalis put the Buckeyes ahead to stay with a 3 at the 18:45 mark. Amber Stokes followed with a stepback baseline jumper before Prahalis converted a free throw and then popped in a jumper to make it 47-40. The Hawkeyes had mustered just three points over more than 8 minutes.
“I thought we shot the ball well enough to win,” Bluder said. “We just didn’t defend tonight.” The Hawkeyes, who have lost 16 of the last 18 meetings with Ohio State, closed within eight points with 90 seconds left but the Buckeyes pulled away again. Substitute guard Melissa Dixon left the game after playing just a minute. She injured a knee in a collision with Ohio State’s Amber Stokes, further diminishing the Hawkeyes’ depth. “We’re not going to quit,” Bluder said. “It hurt us losing Dixon. That was a big loss. She’s giving us 8 points a game and she is one of our best defensive players on the perimeter. We just didn’t have anybody to go to at that point. She’s been a spark for us.” The severity of Dixon’s injury was yet to be determined.