Jan. 16, 2016
- Read the January issue of Hawk Talk Monthly
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone/ipad app!
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye Android app!
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly iOS app
- Download your Hawk Talk Monthly android app
- Big Ten Network: Free Hawkeye Video
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
By DARREN MILLER
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team hosts Penn State on Jan. 20 and Nittany Lion post players should take note.
By reading between the lines of UI head coach Lisa Bluder‘s comments following an 80-73 loss at No .18 Michigan State on Saturday, it appears the Hawkeyes will get the ball inside early and often against whoever they can.
“Those two are shooing the best on the team,” Bluder said of sophomore centers Chase Coley and freshman Megan Gustafson. “Five-for-seven is better than any one person on our team, yet we don’t get them enough looks at the basketball. We’ll have to figure out how to pass the ball into the post and be able to get those high percentage shots.”
This isn’t the first time Bluder has made a plea for more passes to Coley and Gustafson. She delivered the same message after Iowa blew a late lead at Michigan on Jan. 7. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, it was more than déjà vu Saturday at Michigan State.
Iowa took a 36-20 lead with 26 second left in the first half against the Spartans on two made free throws by sophomore Whitney Jennings. Michigan State rallied by scoring 57 second-half points and went on to secure a seven-point victory. Meanwhile, Gustafson was 2-for-2 from the field and Coley was 3-of-5.
The Hawkeyes conclude their five-game, 12-day stretch with a record of 2-3, leaving them at 13-5 overall, 3-3 in the Big Ten. Michigan State is 13-4, 4-2.
Iowa will savor three delightful days without competition before playing Penn State (6-10, 1-4) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. (CT). The Nittany Lions host Michigan on Jan. 17.
“I hope we have a great crowd to come out and support us,” Bluder said. “Mentally, our team really needs to have a great crowd behind us.”
In three of the last four games, the Hawkeyes have led by double figures only to either lose (to Michigan and Michigan State), or hold on for a three-point victory (Wisconsin). All three of those games were away from home.
Despite Saturday’s tough loss, UI freshman Tania Davis emerged with the best performance of her collegiate career. She scored 16 points (making 4-of-5 3-point field goals), with six rebounds, and five assists. Jennings matched a career-high with 15 points and junior Ally Disterhoft added 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
“It’s too bad we had to have a halftime,” Bluder said. “Everything was clicking for us in the first half and then it was the tale of two halves. We were clicking in the first half, Michigan State definitely had the upper hand in the second half. They came out more physical, aggressive, and assertive in the second half — we got back on our heels. They did a great job on the offensive boards, they took care of the ball and we didn’t take care of the ball. Those result in some pretty high percentage shots that get their momentum going.”
Here are a few points supporting Bluder’s “tale of two halves” assertion: In the first half, Iowa shot 60 percent from the field and Michigan State shot 35 percent. In the second half, Michigan State shot 61 percent and Iowa shot 36 percent.
The Hawkeyes also struggled taking care of the ball with nine turnovers in both halves; Michigan State committed seven miscues the entire game. Iowa held a 40-38 edge on the boards.
Another bright spot for Iowa is that for a second game in a row, senior Kali Peschel appears to be back on track from beyond the arc. After making 2-of-4 from 3-point range during a 57-54 win at Wisconsin on Wednesday, she made 3-of-4 at Michigan State. Peschel was the fourth Hawkeye to score in double figures against Michigan State with 12 points.
Iowa went three-deep into it bench and Davis, Gustafson, and Christina Buttenham combined to score 23 points with 16 rebounds and six assists. Gustafson blocked two shots, giving her a team-high 29 in 18 games.