IOWA CITY – Before the shot, Jaime Printy made 1 of 9 attempts beyond the arc. None of her nine attempts induced more pressure than her 10th. Iowa had battled back from 18 down to tie the game at 62.
As the senior shooting guard rose up from the right wing, fellow senior Trisha Nesbitt jogged toward the back court.
As the ball traveled to the rim, Nesbitt crossed half court. It’s a shot she’d seen Printy make countless times during her four years at Iowa, 1 for 9 or not.
“I was already running back on defense,” Nesbitt said. “I was already getting back in the hole, because I knew it was going in.”
Printy made good on Nesbitt’s faith and buried the 3. It jolted Iowa into its second lead of the game. Indiana (11-17, 2-13) answered with a 3 of its own, but the Hawkeyes (18-11, 7-8) didn’t trail again, holding on for a 75-70 senior night win on Thursday in Carver Hawkeye Arena in front of 4,137.
Iowa took its first lead off a Melissa Dixon layup. Unlike Printy, the sophomore felt it all night. Her reverse lay-in gave Iowa a 62-60 lead and netted her team high 22nd point.
The layup not only gave Iowa the lead but completed a comeback that erased the double digit deficit. At 36-18, Dixon paved the comeback trail reeling off Iowa’s next 14 points, including four 3s.
“I love playing with these seniors so much that I was willing to do whatever it took to win the game,” Dixon said. “I didn’t want them to go off on a loss.”
Dixon’s barrage also wrestled Iowa’s offense out of hibernation. Iowa began the game shooting 2 of 10. At the time of Dixon’s run, the Hawkeyes stood at 6 of 21 shooting. When Dixon finished, she had sliced Iowa’s deficit in half.
“It’s such a great feeling to have a spark off the bench like that,” Printy said. “When she gets hot, she gets hot.”
Dixon came up one point shy and one 3 short of tying career highs. More importantly for the Iowa, she stopped the bleeding enough in the first half allowing for the second-half comeback. The Hawkeyes shot 61 percent in final 20 minutes. Morgan Johnson and Printy – both seniors – and Theairra Taylor, who came to Iowa in the same freshmen class, each poured in 11. It came after a first half where the trio combined for 10.
Johnson finished with 17 points. None were bigger than back-to-back baseline jumpers within 40 seconds of each other that put Iowa up seven with 1:20 remaining.
“I’m happy for our seniors that went out victorious. We’re own 18 in the first half, it didn’t look so good,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “But our team kept believing, kept fighting, kept working hard. We didn’t panic.”
Despite the lights out shooting, Iowa didn’t boast the hottest hand in the arena. Indiana’s Aulani Sinclair finished with 31 points on 12 of 22 shooting, including 7 of 11 from deep.
Sinclair went into the locker room with 21 points in the first 20 minutes. She made 5 of 7 3-balls, leading to a 10-point halftime Indiana cushion.
The second half, Iowa’s defense, led by Sam Logic, stifled the Hoosiers’ top scorer. Sinclair didn’t record her 22nd point until 5:20 remained in the game. The Indiana senior closed the game scoring her team’s final 10 points, including buckets to tie the game at 62 and 65.
But the Hawkeyes had the decisive answer – whether down 18 or shooting 1 for 9—which was never in doubt.
“Yeah, we were down 18, but it was senior night, we were playing for a lot on the line,” Printy said. “We just kept believing.”
IOWA 75, INDIANA 70
The “Double Bonus:” Gazette reporter Michael Bonner’s quick reaction to the Iowa women’s come-from-behind win over Indiana on Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Game Ball: Melissa Dixon – The sophomore finished with 22 points to lead Iowa. At one point she scored 14 straight for the Hawkeyes in the first half.
Lame ball: Anyone not in attendance – Best game of the year in Carver-Hawkeye.
Light the victory cigar: 1:20 second half – Morgan Johnson makes her second straight baseline jumper to put Iowa up seven.
Water cooler stat: Iowa started the game 1 of 8 from the field but ended it shooting 27 of 50.
Big number: 31 - the number of points Aulani Sinclair totaled Thursday. The Hoosier scored 21 in the first half and scored Indiana’s final 10 points. She also made 7 of 11 3-pointers.