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Iowa’s stifling defense thwarts Arkansas-Pine Bluff

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following the Hawkeyes second win of the season head coach Lisa Bluder was more than pleased with her offense. Her defense? Not so much.

“Two teams that obviously love offense out there,” Bluder said after the game against Dayton on Nov. 10. “Maybe we need to work on our defense a little bit, and we’ll have time to do that.”

The Hawkeyes must have had plenty of time to work on their defense in their two days of preparation before their matchup with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. During the Hawkeyes’ 76-38 thrashing of the Golden Lions, Iowa dominated Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think we started the game really well,” Bluder said. “We kept our energy high for the first half, but second half, we just couldn’t maintain keeping the energy up.”

While the Golden Lions were able to get some decent looks, Iowa contested each shot they put up, leading to Arkansas-Pine Bluff to shoot 20.6 percent from the field.

A big reason for this was Iowa center Bethany Doolittle, who finished the game with 4 blocks. She is averaging 4 blocks per game this season as she has moved back to her natural position.

“I think I’ve always been comfortable as a defender down low,” Doolittle said. “I have to work on it, but I think that it’s just as natural as going back to the 5 on offense.”

The Hawkeyes did most of their damage in the first half when they got off to a 22-3 run to start the game. When the first half buzzer sounded, Iowa was up 49-18.

“The first half, we did a really good job of pushing the ball and sharing the ball,” guard Melissa Dixon said. “We just have to use these games to work on ourselves.”

Whether in a zone defense or not, one thing the Hawkeyes did consistently the entire night was defend the 3-point shot. Even though the Golden Lions finished the night shooting 37.5 percent from deep, the Hawkeyes held the Arkansas-Pine Bluff to only 8 attempts.

If there’s one aspect that the Hawkeyes need to work on defensively it’s keeping their opponents off the offensive glass.

Iowa won the rebounding battle 55 to 49, but Arkansas-Pine Bluff finished with 20 offensive rebounds. In the first two games of the season, Hawkeye opponents averaged 11 offensive rebounds per game.

“The only thing I was disappointed in was the box-outs,” Bluder said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds to this team, in my opinion. Way too many — we need to do a better job of fundamentally going out, hitting them, and getting them on our backside and going to get that board.”

Iowa’s defense also contributed to its offense. On several occasions — especially in the early portions of the game — the Hawkeyes were able to create a Golden Lion turnover and turn it into easy points.

Seven Hawkeyes finished the night with at least one steal and as a team they finished with 14 points off of turnovers — 12 of which were in the first half.

And while a lot of the Hawkeyes’ defensive play could be attributed to Arkansas-Pine Bluff not having nearly the talent of a team such as Dayton, defensive performances such as Wednesday night’s are what the Hawkeyes are going to need on a regular basis come conference play.

“We need to get ourselves better, we need to continue to get better no matter who were playing against,” Bluder said. “Next week it gets pretty tough.”


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