Feb. 22, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Somewhere in the University of Iowa women’s basketball video vault rests footage from a game between Penn State and the Hawkeyes on Jan. 20, 2016.
UI head coach Lisa Bluder may seek nausea relief before re-watching that nightmare.
“That is one of those tapes you want to throw away, quite honestly,” Bluder said of Iowa’s 82-69 loss to the Nittany Lions in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “You don’t even want to look at it because it makes you sick to your stomach. It was a bad game for us. I would venture to say it was our worst game of the year. How much of it was us? How much of it was Penn State? Who knows?”
Iowa entered its first meeting against Penn State with one win in its preceding four games. The Nittany Lions entered the game 6-11 overall, 1-5 in the Big Ten, but led wire-to-wire and by as many as 22 points.
“We weren’t aggressive and we didn’t start or finish in attack mode,” UI freshman guard Tania Davis said. “We let them control the tempo from beginning to end on our home floor and that should never, ever, ever, ever, happen. We need to stay aggressive, stay with each other, and stay positive.”
Davis did not start against Penn State, but has since started nine games in a row and averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per game. She has scored in double figures in six of those nine games, including 17 points during a 76-73 win over Indiana on Feb. 21.
It goes without saying that Davis will enter Wednesday’s road game with more confidence. She says more confident is an attribute that describes the entire Hawkeye team.
“Now that we have a couple good, solid wins under our belt, our confidence has shot up,” Davis said.
Back-to-back victories against Purdue (63-55 on Feb. 18) and Indiana has elevated Iowa’s record to 17-11 overall, 7-9 in the Big Ten. In order to earn a ninth consecutive berth to the NCAA Tournament, the Hawkeyes will probably need to win their final two regular-season games at Penn State and against Illinois at home Feb. 27.
“That is one of those tapes you want to throw away, quite honestly. You don’t even want to look at it because it makes you sick to your stomach. It was a bad game for us. I would venture to say it was our worst game of the year. How much of it was us? How much of it was Penn State? Who knows?”
UI basketball coach
Bluder refers to the three-game stretch against Purdue, Indiana, and Penn State as a redemption tour. Iowa has already avenged losses to the Boilermakers and Hoosiers.
“This will be our third one and we want it,” Bluder said. “We have put some pressure on (our players), but kids handle pressure sometimes better than adults. Young people are very resilient and they handle it better than us old coaches.”
Bluder echoed what she said two days before the first meeting against the Nittany Lions:
“Penn State is better than its record indicates and they still are,” she said. “They have gotten better every game this year.”
If people didn’t believe what she said in January, they better believe it now after Penn State humbled the Hawkeyes by 13 points on Mediacom Court. Ironically, the Nittany Lions are 4-4 in Big Ten road games and just 1-7 at home.
“I know we are a much different team than we were when we played Penn State at home,” Bluder said. “We need to do a lot of things different from that game. We were really flat. It was a shock to me, it was one of our most disappointing games of the year.”
Another UI freshman who was not in the starting lineup Jan. 20 but will be Feb. 24 is Megan Gustafson. On Monday, Gustafson was named Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week for her performances against Minnesota, Purdue, and Indiana. She averaged 14 points and 10.7 rebounds and pulled down a career-high 19 boards at Minnesota on Feb. 15.
The last Hawkeye to win Freshman of the Week honors was Samantha Logic on Feb. 28, 2012.
“Congratulations to Megan, she has worked so hard ever since she arrived on campus,” Bluder said. “She has been so productive the last nine games she has been in the starting lineup. I’m happy to see everybody else recognizing the effort and the significant impact she has made on our team.”
Iowa and Penn State (10-17, 5-11) tip off Wednesday at 6 p.m. (CT) from the Bryce Jordan Center. The Hawkeyes upset No. 9 Penn State, 73-70, on their last trip to University Park, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 6, 2014.