Nov. 11, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Tania Davis has yet to play an official NCAA women’s basketball game, but the University of Iowa freshman observed three things after a 95-41 exhibition victory over Upper Iowa on Nov. 8.
“We’re a running team and we love that,” Davis said. “We also learned we have a lot of weapons and we can score.”
Observation No. 3: Iowa wins on Mediacom Court in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes set a school record last season by going 18-0 at home and the 2015-16 team isn’t ready to see that success stop.
“I want to be part of something special and this home winning is something special,” Davis said. “I am looking forward to keeping that up my freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years.”
She isn’t alone.
Iowa opens the regular season Friday at home against North Dakota at 6 p.m. (CT). It is the Hawkeyes’ first game of the Hawkeye Challenge, an event where they have won their last four games and two tournament titles. Iowa is 49-7 all-time in the event.
“Last year it was cool to know we broke that record and went undefeated on our home court. Not many teams can say that. Defending your home and letting people know you are not going to come in here and walk all over us is something we take pride in.”
UI junior guard
“Last year it was cool to know we broke that record and went undefeated on our home court,” said UI junior Alexa Kastanek. “Not many teams can say that. Defending your home and letting people know you are not going to come in here and walk all over us is something we take pride in.”
UI head coach Lisa Bluder says that winning at home is significant, but it isn’t talked about at length in the locker room.
“It is important for our players to know this is a great place to play and a hard place for our opponents to play,” Bluder said. “I want our players to have the confidence of knowing that.”
Iowa entertains Tennessee Martin on Sunday at 1 p.m. Although the Hawkeyes and Skyhawks have never met, it is not UT Martin’s first trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena. On March 24, 2013, the Skyhawks lost to Notre Dame, 97-64, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Iowa City.
UI freshman Megan Gustafson scored 19 points with 11 rebounds during the exhibition win over Upper Iowa. After what she called a “super long month” of practicing in October, Gustafson said the team is excited to tangle against opponents instead of teammates.
“The pressure has gone up, but we aren’t affected by it because we’re excited to play people other than ourselves in practice and have a good start to the season,” Gustafson said.
Bluder began her news conference announcing that four recruits had signed National Letters of Intent to become Hawkeyes in 2016. The four are Bre Cera (Mukwonago, Wisconsin), Makenzie Meyer (Mason City, Iowa), Amanda Ollinger (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and Alexis Sevillian (Goodrich, Michigan). The class is ranked No. 18 nationally by Blue Star Basketball.
“Back-to-back top 20 recruiting classes always bodes well for the future,” Bluder said.
Iowa’s 2015 class of Davis, Gustafson, Tagyn Larson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), and Hannah Stewart (Minot, North Dakota) was ranked No. 17 by espnW HoopGurlz.