Colonials an early test for Hawkeyes


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In its opener night against South Carolina-Upstate, everything seemed to be going Iowa’s way.

Every loose ball seemed to squirt into the outstretched arms of an Iowa player, while every shot the Hawks took seemed destined to go in.

Making the most of every opportunity, Iowa got on a roll early on. The out-matched Upstate defense seemed awestruck and failed to materialize a cohesive attack, putting the game more or less out of reach just a few minutes in.

Sunday’s 85-67 win against Robert Morris was a bit of a different story.

The visiting Colonials came out of the gate firing, giving the Black and Gold all they could handle in the first half. Nearly a half-dozen score changes thanks to some big buckets by Morris made things a lot tighter than most were probably expecting.

“I think today was a really good preseason game for us,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “They were good defensively, they were scrappy, they got up in us and tested us a lot. It was good for us to have that type of pressure early on.”

After the first 20 minutes of play, the Hawkeyes found themselves up 42-31, a fairly comfortable margin by most standards.

However, considering two days prior Iowa led by nearly 50 at the same mark in their game against the Spartans, it became fairly evident that the Colonials would give the Hawks all they could handle. 

Luckily for Bluder, her team was able to respond to this early test with a more complete second half, scratching out a 74-58 win in the process.

“This wasn’t an early season pushover game,” Bluder said. “This was a good team and they played us tough.”

A veteran squad, Iowa’s experienced senior core seemed unfazed by the game’s tightness; however, for some of Iowa’s less-experienced contributors, Sunday’s game provided a valuable learning opportunity.

“They’re growing and getting better all the time,” Bluder said. “I think as a freshman, sometimes you get in there and think you have to score to show your worth, and that’s so wrong for our offense. It’s a hard light bulb to try to turn on, and I think they did well with it today.”

Of course, it helps when Iowa has a couple of all-conference talents to sit back and learn from as well. 

Senior Melissa Dixon finished with a team-high 21 points, including 6 from behind the 3-point arc, while junior Kali Peschel knocked down 7-of-9 from the field and added 8 rebounds.

“Really, my teammates did a great job of getting everyone the ball and finding passing lanes,” Peschel said. “I really have to give all the credit to them for my game today.”

Dixon, who became the 32nd 1,000-point scorer in Iowa history after knocking down a deep 3 late in the first half, helped to stabilize the Hawks, leaning on her experience on the floor to help guide the Hawks to a W.

“I think you kind of get in the groove of things once you start feeling it and the rest just comes,” Dixon said. “We all really pride ourselves on a team game, so that’s what helped out a lot.”

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s basketball team.

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