By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — You will want to take a closer look at the season results before predicting the outcome of Sunday’s Iowa-Wisconsin women’s basketball game in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa has won 16 games, Wisconsin has won eight. Iowa has seven Big Ten Conference victories, Wisconsin has three.
But take a peek at results in February: the Hawkeyes are 3-4, the Badgers are 3-4. And since Feb. 9, Iowa is 2-3 and Wisconsin is 3-2.
“Wisconsin is playing its best basketball of the year,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said Friday at a news conference in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “They have won three of their last five games after losing 10 straight in the conference. They played very well at Michigan (on Feb. 12); it was a close game to the end. They are young and have gotten better and better as the year has gone on.”
Wisconsin’s 75-66 loss to Michigan was a two-possession game with 4:39 remaining.
The Badgers are led by junior Cayla McMorris, who scores 12.4 points per game and has made 80 percent of her 138 free throws. Senior Avyanna Young averages 10.8 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game. Jonathan Tsipis is in his first season as head coach for the Badgers after being head coach at George Washington from 2012-16. The Colonials defeated Iowa 81-77 in double overtime last season in the Lone Star Showcase in Austin, Texas.
“A new coach can sometimes bring renewed enthusiasm to a program that has been losing, losing, losing,” Bluder said. “Jonathan has done that, but it is a group that has gotten better throughout the year and they know they have gotten better. You can see it in the aggressiveness and hustle that they have.”
Iowa (16-12 overall, 7-8 Big Ten) has won the last 16 meetings against the Badgers (8-20, 3-12) and leads the all-time series, 46-20.
It is the final regular season game — and Senior Day — for the Hawkeyes, who hope to send seniors Ally Disterhoft, Alexa Kastanek, and Hailey Schneden — off with their 56th career victory on Mediacom Court.
“They are all so different,” Bluder said. “You can say they are all remarkable young women. They have all done well academically, but they have had three different basketball paths. Academically and character-wise, they are top-notch.”
Disterhoft, the local hero from Iowa City West High School, is only the second Hawkeye to score more than 2,000 points in a career. She averages 16.5 points and 5.5 rebounds and leads the team with 42 3-point field goals. Kastanek headed east to Iowa City from Lincoln, Nebraska. She has started 21 games in her career and has made 106 3-point field goals. Schneden, originally an invited walk-on from Davenport (Iowa) Assumption High School, has played in 25 career games and shot 55.6 percent from the field.
“It’s always a little more emotional when you have your Senior Day,” Bluder said. “Hopefully those emotions will help us and everybody wants to play for these three seniors.”
Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. (CT). Bobbleheads of all three seniors will be given away prior to the game.