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Hawks become chairwomen of the board

BY KYLE MANN | FEBRUARY 16, 2015 5:00 AM

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Every now and then, the Iowa women’s basketball team has a game in which it reminds observers how versatile it is.

On Dec. 21, 2014, the Hawkeyes out-sniped Drake on the road in a 100-98 thriller, and Melissa Dixon set an Iowa record with 10 3-pointers. Less than a month later, the Hawks ground out a 52-50 victory at Michigan State, led by Dixon with 13 points and a lone triple.  

At Northwestern on Jan. 29, center Bethany Doolittle’s 29 points and 12 rebounds helped Iowa to a 102-99 win. Hardly a week later, on Feb. 8, point guard Sam Logic poured in 30 points to spark a 87-75 defeat of Wisconsin.

So when opposing teams prepare for the Hawkeyes, they must know; they don’t know exactly what might beat them. But when Iowa defeated the Hoosiers, 81-64, on Sunday, it’s quite possible they got them with the absolute last thing they saw coming: rebounding.

“We have not performed as well as we can on the rebounding end, but boy, the way we crashed today,” Lisa Bluder said. “I thought we got a bunch in the first half, and it kind of gave us, ‘Hey, we can actually kind of do this’ kind of thing. So I think that was good momentum to continue crashing.”

The Hawkeyes shot only 38 percent from the floor in the first half, 29 percent from beyond the arc, but held a 20-13 advantage on the boards that allowed them to take a lead to the locker room.

Largely because of 9 offensive rebounds, Iowa had 14 more shot attempts than the Hoosiers (34-20) and led 35-26.

The criticism of the team’s rebounding this season has been somewhat amplified because it’s the weak point of a very strong team. In reality, the Hawkeyes are far from inept on the boards.

Iowa sits at fifth in the conference with 38.3 rebounds per game and is only slightly below the middle of the pack in rebounding defense. Taking both sides into account, the team is technically positive in rebounding margin on the season.

Iowa continued its dominance on the boards into the second half and began to reap the benefits on the scoreboard.

“When you rebound, you can get out and push, and I think we did a good job of that, especially in the second half,” Logic said. “And when you get offensive boards, you just find shooters.”

Accordingly, Iowa’s shooting from the floor skyrocketed to 61 percent in the second half, including 57 percent from beyond the arc. Logic grabbed 6 rebounds and tallied 11 assists, and the team had four double-digit scorers.

The Hawkeyes began as an offensive juggernaut, and they have lived up to expectations. The season’s success, however, ultimately hinges on its ability to defend and rebound, and Sunday served as another reminder that — to the infinite credit of Bluder — they are progressing exactly as they should be if they expect to be serious in the postseason.

Bluder will need to continue to be the maestro in the practice gym to keep her team on the rise, only this week, she’ll have to do it in only one day. The Hawks will play at Minnesota on Tuesday.

“We know Tuesday is going to be a challenging game on the road at Minnesota,” Dixon said. “So we’re going to have to have a lot of focus and intensity in practice to get ready for that game.”

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


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