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Hawks win without Dixon

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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The feeling inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena before Iowa’s 78-74 win Thursday night was one of high energy and even higher emotion.

Donning pink jerseys and socks, several of the Hawkeyes were escorted during lineup announcements alongside a member of the local community who had battled breast cancer and survived.

While most of the women were introduced to their Hawkeye counterparts just a few moments before the ceremony took place, Iowa senior Melissa Dixon was a little bit more familiar with the woman striding out onto the court with her: her mother.

Dixon’s mother, Cindy, survived a bout with breast cancer and was in the house on Thursday to walk her daughter out onto the floor for what will be one of the younger Dixon’s last home games in Carver-Hawkeye as a member of the Hawkeyes.

And had this game been out of Disney or some other inspirational movie assembly line, it would have been a storybook moment that ended with Dixon hitting some last-minute shot or having the game of her life to propel her team to victory.

Not quite.

The Wisconsin defense was masterful in shutting down one of the nation’s most elite 3-point shooters, limiting Dixon to just six shots and 5 points all night.

And while that the Hawks did manage to eke out the win, Thursday was the latest chapter in what has become a somewhat alarming trend the last few games for the Black and Gold: Dixon is just 12-of-44 from beyond the arc in her last four games.

That’s a about 27 percent, well below her season average of 44.1 percent.

While Dixon was unavailable for comment after the victory, Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder offered some insight into her star player’s recent slump.

“Melissa is a player who is always better when we’re in,” Bluder said. “She’s not the best at setting up and finding room off screens, and Wisconsin did a really good job at taking those away from us today.”

In Bluder’s mind, the defense concentrating on Dixon opens up other options for the Iowa offense.

“They’ve definitely keyed in on her recently, and when that happens, I think there are other things we need to look for,” Bluder said. “Whether it’s getting the ball inside to Beth [Doolittle] or driving to her side, because that opens up the lane for other people.”

Senior Sam Logic has started to take advantage of some of those opportunities.

“I think I’ve had to be a little more aggressive at the start of games,” Logic said. “They’ve concentrated on Melissa a bit more the last few games, so that give us a lot of lanes to work with.”

Slump or not, Bluder isn’t worried about Dixon’s recent slide. After watching her for four seasons, she’s well aware of her ability to break out at any moment.

“She could make four or five next game, and it wouldn’t surprise me,” Bluder said. “I just believe that anytime she shoots the ball that it’s in.”


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