Hawkeyes looking to bounce back against Drake


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Losing to an in-state rival is never easy. But the process of bouncing back may be more difficult.

This is the situation the Iowa women’s basketball team faces. After dropping just their second game of the season last week at Iowa State, the Hawkeyes will return home to face Drake on Saturday.

“Practice on Friday wasn’t a lot of fun,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “You have to use it as a motivator. Anytime you lose, I think you need to learn from the experience. But you can also use it as a great motivator.”

One thing the Hawkeyes are looking to learn from is their defensive performance at Iowa State. While Iowa has given up more than 83 points on several occasions this season, it has yet to send a team to the free-throw line as many times as it did in Ames.

Almost half of the Cyclones’ points came from the charity strip — they converted 37-of-49. In comparison, the Hawkeyes went the line 20 times.

“We just have to get better at keeping our hands off,” junior point guard Sam Logic said. “Some of them were at the end, when you’re just trying to get back in the game. But still, 49 is a lot to overcome.”

More to Logic’s point, 35 of Iowa State’s free throws came in the second half, as opposed to its 14 first-half attempts.

But that doesn’t take away the importance placed on the defensive side of the ball this week in practice.

“To bounce back after Iowa State, we really knew that defense was going to be a focal point,” Claire Till said. “It was more focus than aspects of defense.”

That lack of focus could be somewhat attributed to the Hawkeyes’ playing on the road in front of one of the nation’s most hostile crowds.

Last season, Iowa State ranked second nationally in attendance. The crowd lived up to the hype in the Cyclones’ matchup with the Hawkeyes, filling Hilton Coliseum to the tune of 11,543 fans — easily the biggest crowd the Hawkeyes have played in front of this season. 

“We let the environment rattle us a little bit,” Bluder said. “Mostly defense and boxing out.”

But fortunately for Bluder’s Bunch, they return home for their matchup with Drake — a team the Hawkeyes are in no way taking lightly.

“They are a really good 3-point shooting team,” Bluder said. “I think we’re a decent 3-point shooting team, but they shoot the 3 very well.”

This season, Drake has connected on 36.6 percent of its long-range attempts, and it has three players who are shooting better than 40 percent from deep.

Drake is also riding somewhat of a hot streak. After starting off the season dropping four of their first six games, the Bulldogs have won their last three matchups by an average margin of 17 points.

But the Hawkeyes have yet to lose in the confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season. And while Iowa would have certainly loved to run the table on its nonconference schedule, the Hawks believe that they’re a better team as a result of their two losses this year.

“Winning is fun, you kind of move on,” Bluder said. “But I think you learn more from a loss. We’re moving on to Drake.”

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