IOWA CITY – Lisa Bluder kept the secret until after the game. During its trip to Miami to participate in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic, the Iowa women’s basketball team will make a pit stop at AmericanAirlines Arena to witness a Miami Heat game.
“I was waiting to tell them that before the game, but after seeing their emotion of how excited they were, I think I should have told them before,” Bluder said.
The team’s point guard Samantha Logic assisted, “(Theairra Taylor) was jumping up and down. She jumped higher for that than rebounds.”
The jubilant reactions came after an emotionless game against Robert Morris. A jolt of energy from halftime carried the Hawkeyes to a 58-44 win. But coming down off a draining battle against No. 25 North Carolina, Iowa didn’t bring the level of mental preparedness it needs going forward.
“I think it’s a trap game, a little bit of a dangerous game,” Bluder said. “Because of where we’re playing them and who it fell after too. I think that was always important. I think coaches kind of understand those things, and the emotions of players and how much energy they expanded on Sunday.”
Iowa trailed for almost all of the first 10 minutes of the game. After a 3-0 lead to open the game, the Hawkeyes didn’t recapture it until Logic found Morgan Johnson for a layup. It put Iowa up 15-13 with 9:31 left in the first half and never relinquished it.
It was the same duo that helped the Hawkeyes pull away from the Colonials in the second half. Up there at half, Iowa opened the second half on a 13-2 run. Eight of the 13 came from Johnson and Logic.
“We got Morgan the ball a little more inside,” Bluder said. “We talked about at halftime, we have to get the ball inside.”
In the first 20 minutes of the game, Iowa tallied two points in the paint. After halftime, the number grew to 20 – all 20 came from Johnson and Logic.
Johnson scored 16 of her 19 in the second half and grabbed eight of her 11 boards in the final 20 minutes. It was her second double-double in as many games. It didn’t come easy. For most of the night the senior dealt with a 6-foot-7 center on her back.
No segment of the game displayed this more than her 16th and 17th points of the night. After getting swatted by Anna Gailite, and seeing Bethany Doolittle suffer the same fate, Johnson corralled the loose ball, and avoided Gailite’s swinging arm to make the bucket and put Iowa up 49-35.
“She did a great job of getting that arm around me so I didn’t look very open on for the wing pass, especially in the first half,” Johnson said. “She did a good job taking that away. I just needed to work for my baskets a little harder this game.”
Logic did her best to help her center out. She dished three of her fives second-half assists to Johnson, resulting layups. In addition to her five dimes, Logic scored all four of her points in the second half. Overall she finished with nine compared to two turnovers. Against UNC, she posted six assists and seven turnovers.
“It was good. When you have people like Morgan and Jaime and (Taylor), the list goes on of people who are going to finish for you,” Logic said. We worked the ball a lot and ended up getting open shots when we were patient enough.”
The patience led to easier shots and a higher shooting percentage in the second half. Iowa shot 32 percent in the first half. The Hawkeyes raised it to 43.8 in the second. Even when they missed, it led to points – something that didn’t happen in the first. Iowa scored nine of its 11 second chance points in the second half.
Again Johnson took the reins, and grabbed all five of her offensive boards in the second half. It helped her shoot 7 of 10 in the second half, three of which came on putbacks. The other four came off perfectly placed entry passes.
“I’m getting those easy layup shots,” Johnson said. “So if you’re shooting easier shots, you have a higher shooting percentage. I just give all the credit back to them. They’re just doing a great job getting me open.”
The Hawkeyes now take their talents to South Beach, where the stars on the court from Tuesday, also has no problem working together off it — especially when it come to LeBron lovers Theairra Taylor and Claire Till.
“I think we all just play it up and pretend like we’re Lebron-haters,” Johnson said.
Give the assist to Logic, “Just to get rise out of them, because it’s so easy.”