Hawkeyes on the prize
Iowa ends Purdue's Big Ten title run with 75-70 upset
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) -- A friendly warning to the team that draws Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament: Beware the halftime lead!
The No. 23 Hawkeyes, winners of six straight games, trailed at the half in the last five of them. The most recent second-period comeback took place Sunday as Iowa upset No. 8 Purdue 75-70 to win the Big Ten conference tournament.
"You really have to credit them," said Purdue center Camille Cooper, who had 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. "You know they have great shooters but they were working the ball inside."
Iowa guard Cara Consuegra celebrated her 22nd birthday Sunday by scoring 17 points, seven on clutch free throws made in the final 37 seconds, and earning the tournament's most valuable player award.
"This was by far the best birthday present I ever had," the 5-foot-8 senior from Mount Airy, Md., said after the game at Van Andel Arena.
Eleven of Consuegra's points came from the foul line. Randi Peterson led all Iowa scorers with 20 points and had nine rebounds. Leah Magner had 10 points for the Hawkeyes (20-9), the tourney's second-seeded team and winners of 12 of their last 13 games.
"Cara was always in control of the game. She controlled the tempo," said first-year Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, the Big Ten's coach of the year. "I think she is playing the best basketball of her life."
Purdue (26-6), the No. 1 seed, had won three consecutive Big Ten tournaments entering the game. The team's seniors - Cooper, Katie Douglas, Shinika Parks, Candi Crawford and Mo-nique Langston - had never lost a game in the tournament.
Douglas, the conference's player of the year for the second straight season, had 23 points and hit 9 of 11 free throws. Cooper had 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Shalicia Hurns had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Purdue, which led 33-30 at the half.
Every time the Boilermakers appeared poised to take control of the game, an Iowa player would hit a basket, grab a rebound or force a turnover. There were 11 lead changes and 12 ties in the second half alone.
"I think the disappointing part was there were so many loose balls that didn't go our way," Purdue head coach Kristy Curry said.
The tenacity of the Hawkeyes finally started to wear down the Boilermakers in the game's final moments as Purdue kept sending Consuegra to the foul line.
Purdue led 65-53 after Erika Valek hit a 3-pointer with 3:33 left in the game. But Iowa scored eight straight points to take a 71-65 advantage with 24.2 seconds remaining. Consuegra hit 7 of 8 free throws to account for the Hawkeyes' last seven points.
The game's back-and-forth tempo was established early. Iowa trailed 14-10 when Magner hit a 3-pointer with 12:28 left in the first half to pull the Hawkeyes within a point. Purdue then ran off eight straight points to take a 22-13 lead at the 9:12 mark. Douglas scored six of her 11 first-half points during the run.
Iowa responded by scoring 10 points in a row, four each from Peterson and Beatrice Bullock, and taking a 23-22 lead with 5:34 remaining in the half.
In the first half, Purdue shot 52 percent (13 of 25) from the floor but only 45.5 percent (5 of 11) from the foul line.
Peterson had 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds in the half.
Joining Consuegra on the all-tournament team were Douglas,
Cooper, Peterson and Allison Curtin of Illinois.