Iowa City – A desperate Iowa women’s basketball team, which didn’t want to start the Big Ten season with three consecutive losses, beat the Gophers 78-71 on Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a strong second half.
The Hawkeyes, who trailed by three at halftime, scored 46 points in the second half to pull away. Theairra Taylor, a 5-11 senior who played for St. Paul Central in high school, led Iowa (13-4, 1-2). She had a season-high 20 points on her bobblehead night, including 16 of Iowa’s 32 points in the opening half.
Taylor was 7-for-9 from the field, including 2-for-3 behind the arc, and also had six rebounds.
“We needed that first Big Ten win, our backs were kind of against the wall,” Taylor said. “So it was time to turn it on.”
Guard Rachel Banham had 32 points for the Gophers and was 4-for-8 on three-pointers.
Amanda Zahui B., a 6-5 freshman center, had 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Gophers (11-5, 0-2). But she and Micaëlla Riché, who played only 13 minutes because of foul trouble, fouled out with five and three minutes left, respectively.
Riché, a starting forward, had only one point and one rebound, the 500th of her career.
“We were trying to attack their posts, they were in foul trouble,” said Bethany Doolittle, a Hill-Murray product who had 19 points for Iowa. “I did my best to go attack them, go to the free throw line, and get them in foul trouble even more.”
Iowa shot only 39.3 percent in the first half, but heated up to 61.9 percent in the second.
Three other key statistics helped decide the game: The Hawkeyes had a 22-5 advantage in points off turnovers, led 10-0 in fast-break points, and were 26-for-28 on free throws to the Gophers’ 8-for-11.
Iowa now leads the all-time series with Minnesota 46-23, but the Gophers had won the last meeting, beating the Hawkeyes 72-60 on Feb. 7, 2013, behind Banham’s 34 points.
Banham had another big game against Iowa — so did Zahui B. and Sari Noga with 15 points, all on threes — but it wasn’t enough this time.