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Bluder's Bunch hopes to keep up streak of late-season success

BY RYAN MURPHY | FEBRUARY 02, 2012 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's basketball team hopes to make a late-season push for the postseason with seven games left in the regular season.

The Hawkeyes (11-11, 4-5 Big Ten) shouldn't need any guidance on the right way to finish a year, though.

Iowa has won at least six of its last eight regular-season games in each of the past four seasons, including a 5-0 finish to the 2010-11 campaign.

The Hawkeyes defeated then-No. 13 Purdue, 59-42, on Jan. 28 to begin the season-ending eight-game stretch; now, they'll take aim at Wisconsin (8-13, 4-5) at 7 p.m. today in the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.

Junior guard Jaime Printy, who has contributed to two recent late-season runs, said something has clicked for the Hawkeyes down the stretch in past years. The goal, she said, is to replicate that success.

"Every year I've been here, we always do really good down the stretch, and I think we upperclassmen know that," she said. "We know what's on the line, and know what has to be done. We're definitely ready for it."

One of the Hawkeyes' biggest strengths in the victory over Purdue was the play of the bench, freshman Virginia Johnson said. Johnson scored 6 points off the pine in the win.

"It was nice because everyone really contributed, and everyone was ready to play," she said. "It was cool to have people from the bench [contribute] because, coming from the bench, it boosts the confidence of the whole team."

Iowa also shut down the Boilermakers' 3-point attack, to the tune of 2-of-14 shooting, and head coach Lisa Bluder said limiting Purdue was good preparation for the Badgers.

"We did a pretty good job in the Purdue game, because they had three 3-point shooters to be aware of. Now we're facing another team that has three 3-point shooters we need to be aware of," Bluder said. "Our defense has gotten much better over the past three weeks."

The overall strength of the Badgers — who have won three games in a row since dropping a 69-57 contest to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Jan. 19 — presents a test for her team, she said.

"They just have nice balance with their basketball team; there is nobody that you can really not pay attention to, and there's nobody you can spend a lot of time helping off of," Bluder said. "They're playing much more confidently than their record indicates."


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