IOWA CITY - I-o-w-a seems to spell trouble for Purdue in women's basketball.
Purdue lost only three times to Big Ten opponents last year and Iowa handed the Boilermakers two of those losses. Sunday, the Hawkeyes did it again.
Iowa, which had shot just 33 percent in losing its two previous games, put together one of its best efforts of the season in beating No. 10 Purdue 90-75.
"Iowa's been a nemesis of ours for quite some time," Purdue's Kelly Komara said. "Give them credit. They played a good game."
For some reason, the Hawkeyes have done that every time they've played Purdue lately. Iowa has averaged 84 points in its three straight victories over the Boilermakers.
"I'm not sure it would have mattered who they were playing," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "They have had a bit of adversity lately and they were due for a great game and it happened to be Purdue.
"I don't think it had to do with anything other than if anybody came in here and defensively played like we did, the same thing probably would have happened to them."
Iowa shot 59 percent and six players scored in double figures. Lindsey Meder led the Hawkeyes with 19 points and Jerica Watson provided a major spark off the bench.
Watson had missed Iowa's 82-63 loss at Ohio State on Thursday because of what coach Lisa Bluder said were "personal health reasons," but she looked as good as ever on Sunday. Playing just 19 minutes, Watson had 15 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and four steals.
"I wanted to come in a give this team a burst," Watson said. "I was anticipating a lot of things out there and got a couple of steals and we got our momentum."
Neither Bluder nor Watson would comment on the health question, other than Watson saying she was OK.
Two of Watson's blocks came against 6-foot-5 Mary Jo Noon, who's 5 inches taller than the Iowa senior.
"Before the game I was really trying to visualize myself blocking her shot," Watson said. "I really think when I'm going against bigger players they put the ball out and they don't expect me to block it. That's something I try to sneak up on opponents and do."
Purdue led 23-21 when Watson entered the game. She promptly scored seven straight points, blocked two shots and made a steal in taking the Hawkeyes into a 28-23 lead. They were ahead the rest of the way.
"She came in when we needed her," teammate Leah Magner said. "It was great to see her come back like that."
Magner scored eight of her 12 points in a 16-6 run that stretched Iowa's lead to 64-49 with 13:27 left.
Purdue responded with a 14-2 run to draw to 66-63 on Komara's two free throws with 6:57 to play. Komara's 3-pointer left Purdue trailing 72-68 with 3:46 left, but the Boilermakers did not make another field goal until just 36 seconds remained.
Jennie Lillis converted a three-point play off a strong move to the basket for a 74-68 lead, and Iowa made 14-of-17 free throws in the last three minutes to finish it off.
"To say that we needed this one is a great understatement," Bluder said. "Everything we didn't do at Ohio State we did today."
Shereka Wright led Purdue with 26 points, which matched her career high. Noon scored 18 and Komara 14. Beatrice Bullock had a career-high 16 points for Iowa, while Lillis and Kristi Faulkner each scored 11.