Dec. 18, 2014
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Members of the University of Iowa women’s basketball team took Monday and Tuesday off this week to prepare for academic tests as the fall semester draws to a close. They will have their second true road test on the court Sunday at Drake with the “state championship” on the line.
No. 23 Iowa (8-2 overall) plays Drake (4-5) at the Knapp Center in Des Moines on Dec. 21. With wins against Northern Iowa (73-45) and Iowa State (76-67), the Hawkeyes are a victory away from state bragging rights for the fourth time in seven seasons. Iowa has won three straight games against in-state competition and is 20-4 against Drake, Iowa State, and Northern Iowa dating back to the 2006-07 season.
“It means a lot because it’s another in-state rivalry game,” said UI sophomore Ally Disterhoft, who leads the team with 15.2 points per game. “We have a goal we set at the beginning of the year to get that state championship. We have accomplished two of those tasks and this would be the final one. We’re looking to come out Sunday, play hard, and get that win.”
There are side stories to this game: Disterhoft’s mother played at Drake. UI head coach Lisa Bluder coached 10 seasons and won 187 games at Drake. Two Bulldog alumnae are Jan Jensen and Jenni Fitzgerald, now associate head coach and assistant coach for the Hawkeyes. Drake head coach Jennie (Lillis) Baranczyk played for Iowa from 2000-04.
“Hopefully we understand the focus we have to take on the road with us. I’m hoping we learned about the focus and how to communicate when you’re on the road and learning to maintain that intensity the whole time. We have to get used to playing on the road. That’s why this game could really benefit us down the road.”
UI basketball coach
“A win (Sunday) means you’re the dominant program in the state that year and that’s something we strive to do,” Disterhoft said. “If we can top it off, it would be a great gift going into Christmas.”
Maybe more significant is that a win against Drake would be a road win, something that eluded the Hawkeyes on Dec. 4 at No. 7 Louisville. Handling games away from home will be crucial because from Jan. 4 to Feb. 21 Iowa will be on the road nine times against Big Ten Conference competition.
“Hopefully we understand the focus we have to take on the road with us,” Bluder said. “I’m hoping we learned about the focus and how to communicate when you’re on the road and learning to maintain that intensity the whole time. We have to get used to playing on the road. That’s why this game could really benefit us down the road.”
Iowa has won the last 12 meetings against the Bulldogs, but Drake leads the all-time series, 24-22. The Hawkeyes have won six in a row in Des Moines.
Returning to the theme of tests, UI senior guard Samantha Logic says one the Hawkeyes didn’t ace at Louisville was how to handle runs.
“They are going to happen, they happen every basketball game, it’s how you respond to them,” Logic said. “We will have to contain theirs and make ours longer.”
The Hawkeyes are “chomping at the bit” for a slice of road redemption. Iowa has passed its final two exams — both at home — with flying colors: a 78-63 win against Colorado of the Pac-12 Conference, and a nine-point win against Iowa State of the Big 12 Conference.
“We learned a lot about keeping focus and maintaining that throughout a game,” UI junior Kali Peschel said. “Controlling the controllable and letting the little things come to you as you go. For the Drake game, we want to take away another road win so we can carry that over to the Big Ten with confidence.”
Logic turned in a triple-double with 17 rebounds, 12 points, and 10 assists during Iowa’s 73-51 win against Drake on Dec. 21, 2013. Tipoff on Sunday is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. (CT).