Jan. 3, 2014
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — They had an opportunity in the conference opener, now the University of Iowa women’s basketball team wants victory in Game 2 of the Big Ten season.
The Hawkeyes (12-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) rallied from nine points down with 4:41 left at Indiana on Thursday, only to come up two points short, 86-84. Iowa went on an 8-3 run over the final 33 seconds of the game.
“It shows we can keep battling until the end,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said Friday at a news conference inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “We made some good things happen at the end when we intensified our defense and had to go into the full-court pressure a little bit, so that is good. It gave us an opportunity. When you’re down on the road you just want that opportunity, that’s all you want at the end of the game, and we had opportunity at the end.”
“It shows we can keep battling until the end. We made some good things happen at the end when we intensified our defense and had to go into the full-court pressure a little bit, so that is good. It gave us an opportunity. When you’re down on the road you just want that opportunity, that’s all you want at the end of the game, and we had opportunity at the end.”
UI basketball coach
Bluder expects her team to enjoy another opportunity Sunday when No. 15 Penn State (9-3, 0-0) comes to Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a 2 p.m. (CT) tip. She also assumes they will enjoy the crowd, since this is one of three remaining weekend games on the schedule.
“We are playing on our home court and we only have (two) weekend games after this one,” Bluder said. “(It’s) important for us to enjoy the crowd, enjoy the opportunity to be on our home court and playing against a ranked opponent. That gets us pretty fired up, so hopefully we’ll use that in getting ready for this game against Penn State.”
The Nittany Lions have won 6-of-7 and the last four games in the series. They are led by Maggie Lucas, perceived by many as the top player in the conference.
“Penn State is a very good team. They were ranked No. 1 in the (Big Ten) preseason polls,” Bluder said. “They have great height, they have Maggie Lucas, the best player in our conference, they are strong, they’re physical, they do a tremendous job. They are a very, very tough opponent for us to play and especially coming off a road loss like we did (Thursday).”
The league opening loss still has Bluder scratching her head. She asked the team about pregame routine and pregame meal. What was different? What went awry where the Hawkeyes lacked the spirit that carried them to six straight NCAA Tournaments?
“I wish I knew why we didn’t come out with any pizazz at all,” Bluder said. “We looked like we wanted to play the game, get on the plane, and come home instead of enjoying the game, enjoying the opportunity to be out there, get better every single time you have an opportunity, and come home with a win. We went through the motions to begin the game; we played really hard the last five minutes, but then it was too big of a hole.”
It won’t take the Hawkeyes long to flush the memory of the outing at Indiana with defending Big Ten champion Penn State coming to town three days later.
“The only good thing is it being at home,” Bluder said.