Iowa makes Bluder its winningest coach yet

IOWA CITY – There was no chance to celebrate a career milestone until the end.

The Iowa women’s basketball team needed all 40 minutes to seal a 90-84 Big Ten victory over Northwestern at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and make Lisa Bluder the winningest basketball coach in school history.

Now in her 14th season, Bluder picked up win No. 270 to surpass C. Vivian Stringer as the Hawkeyes (19-6, 7-4) claimed their second straight win and seventh in their last nine.

Melissa Dixon shot 6-of-9 from beyond the arc to score 24 points, while Samantha Logic neared a triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Theairra Taylor (16), Bethany Doolittle (14) and Ally Disterhoft (11) also scored in double-digits.

“I’m thrilled at the five players in double figures and that we outrebounded them (41-34),” Bluder said.

“We scored very well tonight. Our defense obviously has a little to be desired, but at the same time we did what it takes to win, and that’s the most important thing. We’ve got this important week off to a good start.”

Doolittle hit a jumper to stop a 10-2 run by the Wildcats (14-10, 4-7) and give Iowa a 64-63 lead with 9:12 remaining. The basket triggered a 10-2 flurry for Iowa to go up 74-65. Logic made a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to 88-78 with 52 seconds left, though the Wildcats closed to within four points with 15 ticks on the clock.

“That’s where we have grown,” Logic said.

“Earlier in the season we would have gotten down on ourselves and let that affect our offense. We answered and went on a run of our own. It’s resiliency. (Northwestern has) a good team, they’re feisty, and they’re going to make runs. You have to be ready to fight.”

Iowa was ready to shoot and made 33-of-64 field goals, with Logic going 6-for-8 from the field, while Dixon was 7-of-11. Nia Coffey’s 29-point, 10-rebound performance carried the Wildcats, while Lauren Douglas scored 25 off the bench to help Northwestern earn a 29-5 advantage in bench points. Doolittle added three blocks, Taylor had four assists and Disterhoft grabbed nine boards in the win.

After the game, Bluder was saluted at midcourt by University of Iowa director athletics Gary Barta, who presented her a ceremonial game ball. Moments later, a video highlight was played that included congratulatory messages from former player Lindsey Meder (1998-2002), Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, and Stringer, who is now head coach at Rutgers. From 1983-95, Stringer accumulated a record of 269-84 as head coach of the Hawkeyes. Bluder is now 270-163 at Iowa and is one of 13 active Division I coaches with 600 or more wins. She has 626 career victories.

“The whole thing was a surprise, but you know, Vivian is such a great coach; she’s a Hall of Famer,” Bluder said.

“She’s a person that got this program started in the right direction, and I’m glad that we have a friendship. I’m glad that we share some similar experiences. We both sat in that seat for a lot of years, and we both love this place immensely.”

Bluder was originally hired to a five-year contract by Dr. Christine Grant in 2000 before Barta took over the department in 2006.

The Hawkeyes host Illinois (9-15, 2-9) Thursday in a 8 p.m. game televised by the Big Ten Network. Iowa is 11-3 at home this season.