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Iowa women's hoops looking for signature win

BY BEN WOLFSON | JANUARY 26, 2012 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's basketball team (11-9, 3-4 Big Ten) has underperformed this season.

But the Hawkeyes still believe they can regroup over their remaining nine games and qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa is searching for its first conference road win, and it needs a big victory over a ranked team to bolster its tournament résumé.

"We need some wins," head coach Lisa Bluder said in a press conference on Wednesday. "It's not an easy week to have that happen, but we need to make it happen. We need to have a quality win or two in our résumé, and this is an opportunity for us to get it."

Iowa will try to extend its streak of making the NCAA Tournament to five-straight seasons.

The 2008-09 squad started 9-7 overall, 2-3 in the Big Ten, before it closed the regular season by going 11-2.

The Hawkeyes were in an even worse position in 2009-10. Bluder's team was 8-7 and 1-3 in conference play, but strung together 12 wins in its last 14 games.

Iowa was even able to turn its play around in 2010-11, when it started 8-10 and 1-6 in league games. Nine wins in 11 games got the Black and Gold into the tournament.

Last year, Iowa was 17-7 and 5-6 in conference before closing the regular season with a five-game win streak.

Iowa travels to Lincoln, Neb., to take on the No. 19 Cornhuskers (16-3, 5-2) tonight. The Hawkeyes went into halftime up two points in their first matchup with the Huskers, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 8, but ended up losing by five, 77-72.

"Last time we played them … [it was] one of those situations where, it could have been anybody's game," Bluder said. "We took care of the ball and we shot the ball well from the 2-point line and from the free-throw line, but we need to play better defense.

"Our team only had 13 turnovers against them the last time we played; we're going to have to duplicate that type of performance in order for us to be in this game at Nebraska."

Iowa will travel home after tonight's game, and will only have Friday to prepare for its second game in 72 hours. The Hawkeyes will host No. 13 Purdue on Saturday, a rematch with a team the Hawkeyes led by as many as 14 points before losing a 57-55 contest on Jan. 15.

"Rebounding has been a problem," freshman guard Sam Logic said when asked why the team has struggled to close out games. "We have to be more focused on that. There's no excuse; if we focus on that, everything else will come."

And while the Hawkeyes are in a position with their backs against the wall, junior guard Jaime Printy said she's "excited" for these next two games.

"We need to have confidence down the stretch," she said. "We play really good for 35 minutes of the game — but the last five minutes, we just give away our win. We need to be focusing on that … and being able to rely on each other."

A win tonight would go a long ways towards setting the team up for another postseason trip, Printy said.

"Once you get that feeling of winning back, you get on a roll," she said. "My freshman year [2009-10], we struggled a lot on the road in the Big Ten, but getting those wins and getting that confidence is huge."


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