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Iowa women's basketball needs bounce-back game

BY JACOB SHEYKO | FEBRUARY 21, 2014 5:00 AM

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Following what might have been the Iowa women’s basketball team’s toughest loss of the season, the Hawkeyes will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday to take on Michigan.

The game won’t just be an opportunity for the Hawkeyes to improve upon their conference record of 8-5, it is also a chance for the Hawks to redeem themselves after their recent loss to No. 21 Purdue.

“I think the Purdue loss, that can take a lot out of you because you have the lead, and you know it was so close,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “But we talked about dealing with frustrations and how that’s important if you want to have success.”

In the 74-73 loss at Mackey Arena, Iowa looked in control for most of the game. It built a 16-point halftime lead, but in the second half, that lead disappeared.

An excuse for this Iowa meltdown could be fatigue, something that Bluder acknowledged, but she did not place all the blame on that.

The Hawkeyes’ matchup with Purdue was their third game in a span of seven days.

“I hate to use excuses; I’m just not about that,” Bluder said. “But I think it might have had an issue with us for missing some of those shorts shots that we normally don’t miss in the second half.”

Iowa’s remaining schedule

The Hawkeyes have three games remaining on their regular-season schedule, and all match Iowa against team with worse overall and conference records.

But that doesn’t diminish their importance.

Iowa is in tied with Purdue for fourth place in the Big Ten. With Iowa’s loss to Purdue last week, the tiebreaker would go to Purdue and give it a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.

If the Hawkeyes can win their remaining Big Ten contests, that would increase their chances of earning a first-round bye, which would certainly help their postseason aspirations.

Perhaps the most important of the three remaining games is the one against Michigan. Given the Wolverines’ similar conference record to Iowa — Michigan is 8-6 — this game is crucial for the Hawkeyes.

“We know that this Michigan game is extremely important because we only play them once,” Bluder said. “So for tiebreaker scenarios and the fact that they’re right behind us in the standings, it’s important.”

While Iowa has only three games remaining in the regular season, this will be its first game with Michigan this year.

But Bluder, in her 14th season coaching at Iowa, is used to strange scheduling in the Big Ten.

“It’s a bit odd,” she said. “But I think last year we played Michigan within about 10 days of each other.

“We don’t put a lot of stock into those type of things. It doesn’t matter where we play them or when we play them; it’s just about giving our best performance every game.”


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