Hawkeye women struggle in several key areas Sunday


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The halftime lead proved to be too much to overcome.

At the break, Penn State led Iowa by 12 points, a quite significant deficit considering the Lady Lions’ first-place standing in the conference.

The 20th-ranked Hawkeyes mounted a comeback in the second half, but it was for naught. When Iowa appeared to have the momentum on its side, Penn State silenced the crowd with a basket of its own. In front of an announced crowd of 5,830, Penn State defeated Iowa, 82-75.

After the game, a troubling stat stuck out on the score sheet — the Hawkeyes’ uncharacteristically poor free-throw shooting. Iowa entered Sunday shooting the Big Ten’s third-best percentage from the line.

The Hawkeyes put themselves in a hole by failing to sink shots from the charity stripe. When the final buzzer sounded, the team’s tally was a mere 11-of-19 from the line — 57.9 percent.

Make some or all of those, and the Hawkeyes stand a better chance of closing the lead or even winning.

“Free-throw shooting obviously [was not] to be desired,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Missed too many opportunities there.”

Overall, Iowa’s lack of made baskets in the first half rendered Penn State’s lead insurmountable.

Two players Iowa tends to rely on — Kachine Alexander and Jaime Printy — weren’t up to par against Penn State. Both struggled in the first 20 minutes.

Alexander wasn’t able to make any of her four first-half attempts, and Printy was 2-of-6 from the field, recording just five points. The 5-11 sophomore did bounce back to give Iowa a push in the second half and finished with 20 points.

Penn State responded to Printy’s shots, though.

“It’s tough when you come down and hit a big shot, and then [shortly thereafter] they come right back at you,” Printy said. “I think that was a big key in this game.”

Shooting aside, perhaps the most frustrating component of Iowa’s loss was transition defense. The Lady Lions capitalized on the Hawkeyes’ inability to get back on defense following their offensive possessions, and Penn State doubled Iowa’s fast-break points, 12-6.

When Penn State shooters were open, they made shots. The Lady Lions’ ability to hit from inside 15-feet was a deciding factor in the game.

“I think not getting back or communicating defensively who you [are covering] in transition hurt us,” Bluder said. “[Penn State] exploited it on us. We’re not the only team they’ve done this to. They’re averaging 80 points a game for a reason.”

For the Hawkeyes, they now have to respond following back-to-back losses.

Iowa will return to action in practice on Tuesday and play Minnesota (11-12, 3-7) on Thursday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in hopes of improving its conference record.

“[Monday] we have a day off, so hopefully a lot of us will get in the gym and work on the things that we need to work on,” junior Kamille Wahlin said. “Come Tuesday, hopefully, we just think of getting better as a team. We can’t hang our heads on these losses, we have to look to Thursday and try to get rid of this awful feeling of losing.”

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