Iowa women's basketball set to take on Penn State


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Iowa’s women’s basketball team doesn’t have time to reminisce on the most recent loss of its current four-game losing streak. After losing a heartbreaker to Nebraska, 76-75, on Monday night, the Hawkeyes had only two days to prepare for a visit from No. 8 Penn State. A quick turnaround may be just what Iowa (16-9, 5-6) needs to upset the highest-rated team in the Big Ten.

“I think two days will be enough for us to prepare,” senior Jaime Printy said. “It’s definitely a quick turnaround, but we are all ready to get back on the court after the last game and have another chance to play and another chance to win.”

The 5-11 guard just missed a game-tying 3 in the final seconds of Monday’s game that would have sent the game into overtime. Despite the loss, Iowa has yet to lose confidence.

That hopefulness has a lot to do with the way that Iowa has managed to handle playing against ranked opponents so far this season. In six meetings against ranked teams, the Hawkeyes have won six.

“We’re all trying our best to keep our confidence high, because that is the only way you are going to have an opportunity to win games,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said.

Sophomore guard Melissa Dixon, who tied the team lead with 19 points on Monday, echoed her coach’s statement.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game, but we also have confidence,” Dixon said. “We have beaten six ranked teams, and taking that confidence into the game, I think, will help us a lot.”

Another reason the Hawkeyes shouldn’t be ruled out in tonight’s contest is that Penn St’s lone Big Ten loss this season came at the hands of Wisconsin, a team that Iowa has beaten by a combined 20 points in their two meetings this season.

If Iowa is going to take down yet another ranked opponent, it is going to need a huge contribution from senior center Morgan Johnson. Johnson tied Dixon with 19 points against Nebraska, while also contributing 10 rebounds.

Not only is this game huge for the Hawkeyes in terms of their current struggles, it also is going to greatly affect their placing in this years NCAA Tournament. Iowa could use another signature win and what better way to get it than by knocking off the No. 8 team in the country at home.

A tough schedule in the month of February will challenge the Hawkeyes right before postseason play. After tonight’s game, Iowa will go on the road for three of their final four games, including Feb. 17 at No. 18 Purdue. The women know that they are going to have to boost their résumé and play strong down the stretch if they want to continue to be in the NCAA Tournament conversation.

“As a senior, being in this position before, we know what we have to do,” Printy said. “It’s not really putting pressure on us, it’s just being realistic because we need to know what it as a stake.”

The goal is obviously to make it to the postseason but what makes it even more special is the fact that Iowa City plays host to first and second round action beginning March 24 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“Yes that’s the goal, to be playing here in March,” Bluder said.  “To have the opportunity to play in the women’s national tournament and to have it on our own court, that’s the dream.”

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