Iowa looks to rebound against strong Penn State team


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There was almost no time wasted in Lisa Bluder’s short postgame press conference on Feb. 1 before the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions were mentioned.

Mere minutes removed from an 80-67 loss against Nebraska, the Hawkeyes already had their next opponent on the brain and were questioned about them.

A reporter asked Bluder whether Nebraska’s Tear’a Laudermill was one of the quickest guards the Hawkeyes would see all season.

“She’s quick, but Penn State is pretty quick, too, and we play them next.”

It never gets easier when you’re playing a full schedule of games in the illustrious Big Ten.

The Nittany Lions are a team built on speed, as the Hawkeyes discovered in the 87-71 loss on Jan. 5. The top team in the Big Ten also has depth, as the Hawkeyes learned in the loss. Iowa was able to keep the game close, but in the second half, the Nittany Lions, led by Maggie Lucas, took the game away from Iowa by continaully sending in fresh bodies.

“We obviously know we’re up against the wall going to Penn State,” Bluder said. “No. 1 team [in the Big Ten], top-15 ranked team in the country. They are a lot better than Nebraska on paper, so we know we’ve got a tough challenge going on to the road to play.”

Five Hawkeyes are averaging double-digit scoring points this season. Shooting guard Melissa Dixon was held scoreless against the Cornhuskers, and it hurt Iowa’s offense. The junior took shots, but they wouldn’t fall, and the deep score was never able to establish any sort of rhythm.

“The whole game, they were denying Melissa,” said guard Sam Logic, who took the downtown scoring into her own hands to the tune of 22 points and 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.

The Hawkeyes have played well on the road so far this season. Three of the team’s five conference wins — over Minnesota, Ohio State, and Wisconsin — have come on the road. The Nittany Lions will be the most formidable opponent the team has faced on the road since the team traveled to Ames in December, where they lost, 83-70.

Loss to Nebraska aside, Iowa is 4-3 in conference play and is putting together a strong résumé for the NCAA Tournament thanks to strong nonconference wins and the strength of its schedule.

And the Hawks are not going to give up a winning mentality just because of a couple poorly played games.

“We need to come together as a group and figure out what we have to work on,” center Bethany Doolittle said on Feb. 1. “Transition defense, defense overall, just to see how it rolls into our offense. We definitely have a lot to work on, obviously, but I think we can come out and get Penn State.”

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