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Iowa set to take on No. 16 Colorado on the road

BY JACOB SHEYKO | NOVEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following a four-game home stand to open the season, the Iowa women’s basketball team will play in five-consecutive road games in the next 10 days.

First up for the Hawkeyes is No. 16 Colorado, which should prove to be the Hawkeyes next big test in the still-young season.

“[We’re] moving on to Colorado now,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “And that’s obviously a big challenge — top 25 team and our first road test.”

Both teams come into the Nov. 20 matchup with unblemished records. Colorado is 2-0, while Iowa has played twice as many games to put its record at 4-0.

This won’t be the first time this season that the women in Black and Gold line up against a ranked opponent.

On Nov. 10, Iowa defeated then No. 14 Dayton — it has since dropped out of the top-25 following two losses. But ranked or unranked, Bluder sees the early season win over Dayton as something that will pay dividends when the Hawkeyes take the court.

“I think any time you get a ranked opponent, it just builds momentum. It builds confidence for your team,” she said. “Now, we’re going on the road, so we have that. New road tests, have to get ready for that, but we know we can beat top-25 teams.”

Beating a ranked team with Bluder on the sidelines is something that has become a given with almost every new Hawkeye season. Last season, Iowa was 7-4 against ranked opponents. In all but two seasons under Bluder, Iowa has defeated a ranked opponent.

Something that hasn’t carried over from last season is Melissa Dixon’s 3-point stroke. If the Hawkeyes want to upset Colorado, then Dixon’s efficiency from behind the arc — currently 16.7 percent — will need to improve.

But Hawkeye fans shouldn’t worry, Dixon certainly hasn’t lost confidence, and in many cases it’s just a matter of getting the shot to fall rather than struggling to get an open look — which would be cause for worry.  

“As a shooter, you just have to have a short memory,” Dixon said following Iowa’s 76-38 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. “You have to know that the next one is going in. My coaches and teammates have confidence in me, so that gives me confidence as well.”

One of the early strengths for Iowa has been its offensive balance.

Five players are averaging double digits in points. And while four of those — Bethany Doolittle, Theairra Taylor, Dixon, and Sam Logic — were expected to do so, freshman Ally Disterhoft’s impact this early in her Hawkeye career has been somewhat of a surprise to everyone except her coaches and teammates.

“Ally has been seamless in transition. But maybe it’s because she spent so much time in those seats across from the opponent’s bench the last couple years watching us play,” Bluder said. “And I really do think that helps being able to envision yourself out there.”

Through four games, the Iowa City native is averaging 13.8 points and 8 boards per game.

She’ll likely need to continue this hot start if the Hawkeyes are looking to unseat a second ranked squad within the first month of the season.

“We just have to come out and play each game the same way. I think we get up for ranked opponents,” Taylor said. “We have two freshmen that have come in and done wonders for us, so I don’t think there’s anything they won’t be used to.”


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