Dixon returns to form and then some


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Maybe a change of scenery was all she needed.

When Iowa women’s basketball guard Melissa Dixon joined her team on a flight to Cancún, Mexico, the Hawkeyes were 6-1. But something was missing. Their once automatic long-range shooter was in a funk.

At that time, Dixon was averaging a respectable 9.7 points per game but was shooting 24.6 percent from the field and 15.2 percent from beyond the arc.

Being a shooter, Dixon kept a shooter’s mentality.

“You just have to forget about those first couple of games,” she said. “I was in a cold spell.”

Now 11 games into the season and back in Iowa, Dixon’s struggles appear to be a distant memory. The junior guard is in as hot of a shooting streak as anyone in the program’s history.

Dixon now leads the team in scoring with 16 points per game and is shooting 34.7 percent from deep. But that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of how dominant she has been recently.

In her last three games, the Johnsburg, Ill., native is 20-of-34 from 3-point range, leading to an average of 27.7 points per game during that stretch. Her 20 3-pointers is the most ever by a Hawkeye player during a three game stretch.

“That definitely has to be one of the highlights,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Definitely a remarkable performance.”

Before her hot streak, the Hawkeyes were scoring at an elite level. But as one would expect, once Dixon got going from deep, Iowa has exploded offensively, scoring at a rate that the most elite teams would be envious of and breaking records in the process.

In their last three games, the Hawkeyes have put up 102, 97, and 95 points — an average of 98 per game.

A lot of this can be attributed to Dixon, but it also appears as if her hot shooting has begun to rub off on her teammates.

In the Hawkeyes previous game against Idaho State. The Hawkeyes put on a show for the home fans, launching 34 3s and connecting on 17 of them — a school record. Dixon contributed six of those 3s, but when all was said and done, six Hawkeyes sank one from deep.

“Everyone is looking to attack more,” guard Theairra Taylor said. “This year, we’re a lot harder to guard because we have so many threats.”

This version of Dixon comes as no surprise to anyone who has paid attention to her career at Iowa. Last season, Dixon led the Big Ten in 3-point percentage during conference play, shooting at a clip of 43 percent.

If anything has been surprising, it’s been her ability to string numerous 3s together within minutes of each other.

This ability was on full display in the Hawkeyes’ Dec. 5 win over No. 22 Syracuse. Following a scoreless first half, Dixon exploded for a 27-point second half in which she went 7-for-9 from beyond the arc. 

Whether she’s struggling or thriving from 3-point range, Dixon has the green light from Bluder. The junior has attempted 101 shots from deep, easily the most on the team — the next highest is Taylor, who has attempted 35.

But if Dixon keeps shooting as well as she has of late, Bluder might just encourage her to shoot even more.

“It’s just so effortless to watch her shoot, too. It’s fun,” the coach said. “You know, keep it up, keep throwing.”

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