By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Focus forward and full steam ahead.
The University of Iowa women’s basketball team spent 10 minutes looking back on Sunday’s 81-76 loss at Drake when the Hawkeyes reconvened for practice Monday. After those 10 minutes, the emphasis shifted to Kent State, which visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Tuesday with a rare 5 p.m. (CT) tip.
“We’ll get them back, not let them focus so much on the Drake game, and shift the focus,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said Monday during a teleconference. “What’s in the past is in the past and we can only move forward. That’s what we have to do with this Kent State game — focus forward.”
Kent State will be the final nonconference opponent for the Hawkeyes (8-4 overall), who begin the 16-game Big Ten schedule Dec. 28 at Illinois. The Golden Flashes (6-4) are on a four-game winning streak and are led by senior Larissa Lurken, who averages 23 points and 6.5 rebounds a game. She has made 22 3-point field goals.
“She is a key scorer who can attack in a number of ways — 3-point shooting or off the bounce,” Bluder said. “She rebounds well and is a similar player to what we saw out of Lizzy Wendell at Drake.”
Todd Starkey is in his first season as head coach at Kent State after spending the past two seasons as an assistant at Indiana.
“He runs a lot of specials and quick-hits like Indiana, but it isn’t the same stuff,” Bluder said. “I wouldn’t have looked at this team and said they were a direct replica of Indiana.
“(Starkey) is a smart coach who is going to use his pieces. His pieces at Kent State are different from what the pieces were at Indiana.”
Iowa had its three-game winning streak stopped at Drake, despite a 24-point performance by senior Ally Disterhoft and 20 points and 11 rebounds from sophomore Megan Gustafson. The Hawkeyes made 7-of-23 3-point field goals and were out-rebounded, 41-37.
“It was our second true road test of the year. I don’t think we passed very well, but I want to give a lot of the credit to Drake because they came out inspired and played extremely well,” Bluder said. “We have a lot to learn and hopefully we can start getting things turned around with the Kent State game.”
Following Tuesday’s game, the Hawkeyes will practice the morning of Dec. 21 and then have four days off before returning to campus Dec. 26.
The Iowa-Kent State game precedesFocusing an Iowa men’s basketball game against North Dakota at 8:06 p.m.
“I want to stress the 5 o’clock tip time because I know that’s confusing for people and it’s a week night,” Bluder said. “Hopefully people can get a good start on the holidays and come over for a women-men doubleheader in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.”