Hawkeye women come from behind after Dixon’s strong second half

IOWA CITY – Iowa junor Melissa Dixon did not score in the first half against No. 22 Syracuse on Thursday night.

But her efforts in the second half may have single handedly pushed the 25th ranked Iowa women’s basketball team past the Orange.

Dixon scored all 27 of her points and buried all seven of her 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes as the Hawkeyes rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Syracuse, 97-91, during a Big Ten/ACC Women’s Challenge game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“This was a big win for us,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Especially having to battle back from behind and play with a little adversity when Sam (Logic) was out. Everybody contributed to this win. It was one of those wins that you just feel good about because everybody was an important part.”

Dixon was 7-of-10 from long range in the game and 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

Bethany Doolittle also had a career-high 25 points and six rebounds in the win as Iowa improved to 9-5 against top 25 opponents since the start of last year.

“This team just keeps believing, it doesn’t matter,” Bluder said. “You know, that’s going to happen.You’re going to have ebbs and flows to every basketball game. It’s living through those and not getting down and not panicking and doing things when you’re down that you’re not able to do because that’s when that keeps spinning out of control then.”

Samantha Logic added 14 points and seven assists and also needed eight stitches above her eye.

Kali Peschel finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Theairra Taylor chipped in nine points, seven rebounds and eight assists.

The Hawkeyes dished out 28 assists on their 33 field goals in the win. Iowa is now 9-1 on the young season.

“You always dream about these things, but I love where we’re sitting right now,” Bluder said. “Yeah, I mean, another thing, the passing, to take 13 turnovers only against this team that presses the entire time and forces so many turnovers and scores so many points off their turnovers, yeah, I was really happy with how we handled their press.”

Syracuse led by 10 at halftime and still led by 12 with 11:35 to go in the game. That’s when Dixon decided to shoot the Hawkeyes back into it.

The Hawkeyes used a 13-0 run to take a one-point lead with 7:28 play and Dixon hit two treys and scored eight points during the spurt.

“Melissa got the hot hand,”?Bluder said. “That obviously inspires our team a lot. We shot the heck out of the ball. Bethany Doolittle, an unbelievable career high for her scoring. I love 28 assists on 33 baskets. This is great team basketball.”

The game went back and forth for the next few minutes until Iowa pulled in front by five thanks to a 3-point play by Ally Disterhoft.

Syracuse never got closer than three the rest of the way and Iowa pulled off another upset of a top 25 ranked team.

Brittney Sykes had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Orange, which lost their first game of the season. Rachel Coffey added 14 points, while Brianna Butler had 12 and Briana Day added 10 off the bench.

The Orange (8-1) reserves outscored Iowa’s bench 24-12 and out-rebounded the Hawkeyes 43-38.