Feb. 28, 2012
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three is the new magic number for a University of Iowa women’s basketball team that places emphasis on shooting the 3.
The Hawkeyes (19-10 overall, 11-5 Big Ten), the hottest team in the league, are on a quest for three wins in three days at the Big Ten Tournament from March 2-4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. That means more minutes for reserves Bethany Doolittle, Theairra Taylor, Kalli Hansen, Trisha Nesbitt and Kathryn Reynolds.
“In a Big Ten tournament, hopefully where you’re playing three games in three days, you have to go to your bench, you have to be able to count on them because of the fatigue factor,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Tuesday at a gathering with reporters inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa’s eight-game winning streak began with a 59-42 decision against No. 13 Purdue on Jan. 28. During that game, the Hawkeye bench logged 56 minutes, led by Taylor with 21, Virginia Johnson with 18 and Doolittle with 12. Johnson has missed the last five games because of a concussion and is not expected to be available for the Big Ten Tournament. Hansen is returning to speed and played nine minutes Sunday during a 79-71 win against Michigan.
“Theairra has been getting a lot of minutes for us, especially since Jamie (Printy’s) injury,” Bluder said. “She’s an important part.”
Six times during its eight-game winning streak, the Hawkeyes out-shot their opponents from beyond the 3-point line.
“That’s kind of something you have to have with our program, we shoot a lot of 3s,” Bluder said. “We enjoy shooting threes.”
Iowa is second in the Big Ten statistics with 633 3-point field goal attempts; Nebraska has taken 657. If Nebraska, the sixth seed, defeats Northwestern, the 11th seed, on Thursday in a first-round tournament matchup, the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers will meet for a third time. Regardless, Iowa knows it will take the court at approximately 1 p.m. (CT) on Friday.
“Both teams are good team, we had good games with both of them,” said UI junior post Morgan Johnson.
On Monday, Johnson was named to the All-Big Ten Conference second team. The native of Platte City, Mo., has relatives in the state of Nebraska, so she would like another shot at the Cornhuskers.
“We’re all a little hungry for a win against Nebraska,” Johnson said. “They’ve gotten us twice and we want to get them once.”
Nebraska defeated Iowa 77-72 on Jan. 8 in Iowa City, and again on Jan. 26 in Lincoln, 60-53. That setback 33 days ago was the last time the Hawkeyes have lost a game. They are 8-0 since.
“We kept believing in each other and believing in our system,” UI freshman guard Samantha Logic said. “We were close, so when we beat Purdue, it helped us realize our team’s potential and how far we could actually take this.”
Like Johnson, Logic received postseason league honors: she was a unanimous selection on the all-freshman team.
Logic said the upperclassmen “get pretty pumped” for the Big Ten Tournament, and she is excited to experience the sudden-death of the postseason play for the first time.
“They say it’s a whole different intensity,” Logic said. “Anything can happen. The stakes are a little higher; every game you have something to play for, but now especially. That’s fun. You’re a competitor, that’s how you want it — play like it’s your last game. It might be, you never know.”
Iowa swept Northwestern, opening the Big Ten season with an 86-55 win Dec. 30 in Iowa City and following that with a 70-63 victory Feb. 23 in Evanston.
Ohio State has defeated Iowa in the last three Big Ten Tournaments. If seeds hold true, those teams will meet Saturday, March 3, at 4 p.m. (CT) in the semifinals.