Women’s basketball set for Big Ten opener


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Youth has carried the Iowa women’s basketball team thus far in the season.

Playing short-handed because of injuries to three starters, the Hawkeyes (5-3) will try to get back to winning when they start their Big Ten season against Michigan (4-2) in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 6.

Iowa is 41-11 in the all-time series against the Wolverines, and it has won 12 of the last 13 meetings, including the last four.

“They’re a very athletic team,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “They have a bigger center. They are probably a better defense team [than Boston College]. They’re a very quick team.”

After starting two sophomores and three freshmen during the last three games, the Hawkeyes have gone 1-2, the most recent defeat coming against Boston College in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Despite the loss, Bluder was still proud of what she saw from her squad.

“I feel like we had an opportunity to tie it up at the end of the game,” she said. “We had an opportunity, and that’s what you want to be in. You want to be in that situation.”

Staying healthy has been a difficult task for the Hawkeyes.

Senior JoAnn Hamlin was the first to go down after suffering a blood clot in her right leg. While she has gotten the clot removed, the Douglass, Kan., native will be out for the entire season. Sophomore guard Hannah Draxten is also questionable after suffering a herniated disc in her lower back.

But the absence of junior guard Kachine Alexander, who suffered a stress fracture in her right leg on Nov. 18, is perhaps the biggest. Alexander has been the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, averaging a double-double with 21 points and 15.7 boards in three games played.

She is expected to miss around a month with the injury.

Kamille Wahlin has led the Hawkeyes in her place. The sophomore scored double figures in the last five games, and she averages 18.4 points this season, ranking third in the Big Ten.

“I think Kamille’s always been a tremendous player,” Bluder said. “I think now, it’s kind of like the realization that, ‘Hey, you have to do this. You’ve got to carry this load for us.’ I think it’s a realization she needs to step up. She’s a veteran player as a sophomore.”

Another strong addition has been the play of center Morgan Johnson. Originally the backup for Hamlin, the 6-5 freshman is averaging 10.3 points with 6.1 rebounds per game.

“I look at it as a challenge,” she said. “I’m a freshman going up against juniors and seniors. But that’s not the way I try to look at it. I try to look at it as player on player, and it’s a goal for me to get better each game.”

Junior guard Veronica Hicks leads the Wolverines in scoring with 14.5 points while also serving as an outside threat, shooting 44.4 percent from the 3-point line.

“I think there’s just always a lot of adrenaline going on at the end of the game,” Wahlin said. “You’re not paying attention to your legs or whether you’re tired or not. I mean, that’s not what you’re mind is focusing on.”

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