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Hawkeye women can't execute in Minneapolis, lose to Gophers

BY BEN ROSS | FEBRUARY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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There was a point when the Iowa women’s basketball team looked like the real deal.

They looked like anything but the real deal in a 72-60 loss at Minnesota on Thursday night.

The Hawkeyes were — and still are — 6-0 against ranked opponents. The squad finally got the recognition it apparently deserved during the week of Jan 28., when the Black and Gold earned their first top-25 ranking of the season, being awarded the No. 24 spot.

The recognition didn’t last long, though. Iowa lost to unranked Illinois on Jan. 31, which sparked a three-game skid. The Hawkeyes then fell to an 11-12 Northwestern squad at home on Feb. 3.

Iowa went into Williams Arena Thursday night for a matchup against a very beatable Gopher squad (14-9, 3-6 Big Ten). Alas, the Hawkeyes haven’t been able to recreate their performances from earlier in the season, falling to Minnesota, 72-60. Iowa hasn’t been held to below 60 points since the squad’s 50-44 win over then-No. 22 Iowa State on Dec. 6 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa made just 18 field goals all night, on 63 attempts — making for an abysmal mark of 28.6 percent.

The normally hot-handed Hawkeyes haven’t found a groove during their last three losses, and the play of their normally reliable starters is a key reason. Senior captain Jaime Printy went just 6-of-22 from the floor against Minnesota. The Marion native has gone 13-of-42 in Iowa’s last three games — down more than 8 percentage points from her season average shooting percentage of just under 39 percent.

Printy still managed to lead her squad in scoring with 21 points against Minnesota. She went 5-of-9 from beyond the 3-point line and made four of her five free throws.

“We fought hard, we just came up short,” Printy said in a release after the game. “We just have to keep improving. The season is definitely not over, but we have to start doing something now.”

Morgan Johnson was behind Printy in scoring for Iowa, with 13 points on three baskets and a 7-7 mark at the charity stripe. The senior captain expressed happiness with her team’s hustle — Iowa made it a 5-point game with fewer than five minutes to play — but said that they cannot waste opportunities to win in their coming games.

“There’s not much more you can ask from a team but to give it everything you got,” Johnson said in a release. “I think our team really put it together; we gave it our best go, and got the floor, and hustled and got those opportunities. These next games are our opportunities to bounce back.”

The story of the night came from the Gopher side — Minnesota’s Rachel Banham scored 34 for the Maroon and Gold. The sophomore guard went 10-of-19 from the floor, 11-of-14 from the free-throw line. There were be times when Iowa went on a scoring run, but Banham was be there for Minnesota, making her shots and silencing hopes of a Hawkeye comeback.

After the game, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder in a press conference described Banham as a comeback-killer. She also said her team doesn’t have time to sit in a state of consternation and that it still has games to win on its schedule.

“I thought Rachel Banham was fantastic tonight,” Bluder said. “She was the backbreaker for us. I thought she hit some really tough shots. The last few games we haven’t shot the ball well. We didn’t crash very well. Forty-seven opportunities to get offensive rebounds, and we get 9 of them. That’s not very good. The rebounding margin is very disappointing for us.

“We have to play again Monday; we can’t sit here and dwell on it.”


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