Women’s basketball faces Boston College in Challenge


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Despite taking place on the familiar floor of Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the contest against Boston College (3-3) at 7:30 p.m. today poses a difficult challenge for the Iowa women’s basketball team (5-2).

The game will be Iowa’s first this season to be televised live on the Big Ten Network. It is also a part of the third-annual women’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge — an event that Iowa, and the Big Ten, are both 0-2 in.

To make matters more difficult for Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, injuries and a one-game suspension for freshman Gabby Machado’s flagrant foul against Columbia on Nov. 28 will likely leave the Hawkeyes with only seven players for the game.

Sophomores Hannah Draxten (back) and Shante Jones (foot) are both listed as questionable, and junior Kachine Alexander is expected to miss three to four weeks with a stress fracture in her right leg. The Hawkeyes’ lone senior in JoAnn Hamlin is out for the year after having a blood clot removed from her right leg.

All things considered, the Golden Eagles are a candidate to extend the Hawkeyes’ challenge record to 0-3.

Boston College started the season with three-straight losses, but it has won three straight after the return of starting point guard Jaclyn Thoman from an injury.

“This is a good Boston College team that got off to a rocky start without [Thoman],” Bluder said during a teleconference on Tuesday. “I think she’s kind of settled them down, and they’re playing much better.”

Thoman’s 19 assists and steady leadership haven’t been the only reasons for the Eagles’ turnaround.
Boston College also features one of the best interior players in the country in junior Carolyn Swords. The 6-6 center appeared on preseason lists for the State Farm Wade Trophy Division-I Player of the Year. Through six games, Swords leads the Eagles in both scoring (17.2 points per game) and rebounding (10.3 per game).

She is coming off a 20-point, 13-rebound performance that helped guide BC to a 69-68 victory over Southern Methodist University in the championship game of the Hoops For the Cure Tournament.
Additionally, the Hawkeyes will send a freshman center to guard her.

Then again, Iowa’s Morgan Johnson isn’t an ordinary freshman center. Against Columbia, she posted career highs in points (18) and rebounds (12) — her first career double-double.

Bluder called Johnson’s matchup with Swords a definite challenge but couldn’t say enough about how impressed she has been with the play of her first-year center.

“I think Morgan’s done remarkably well for a freshman coming in and playing the position she plays, which is very physical,” Bluder said. “Obviously, she’s in the action a lot. Center and point guard are two of the toughest positions for a freshman to play.”

Johnson will need to continue to play well for the Hawkeyes to earn a W tonight. Although she knows her battle with Swords will be difficult, Johnson is excited for the opportunity.

“I love playing against players who are better than me,” she said. “It gives me a challenge. I look forward to it.”

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