By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — In the practices leading up to Monday’s Wisconsin-Iowa women’s basketball game, the folks in Madison, Wisconsin, will presumably be motivated by 19 consecutive losses in the series.
The folks in Iowa City, Iowa, are driven by what happened New Year’s Eve.
On Dec. 31 in the Kohl Center, Wisconsin used a 27-point third quarter and went on to knock off Purdue, 76-69. That result caught the attention of the entire Big Ten Conference, especially the coaches at Iowa; in the past three seasons, Purdue has won 20, 23, and 20 games per season.
“Wisconsin is steadily getting better and obviously that win against Purdue opens everybody’s eyes,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said Friday during a teleconference. “We’re glad we have them at home, but at the same time, I think that win against Purdue will help my team focus and lock in on practice for these next two practices we have to prepare for Wisconsin.”
No. 19 Iowa (10-3 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) is coming off a 77-71 victory over Nebraska on Jan. 3 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Badgers (10-5, 1-2) lost at Penn State, 71-64. Tip-off on Jan. 7 is 7 p.m. (CT).
“Monday night games are a little unusual, and we will play on the next two Mondays, so we have to get used to it,” Bluder said. (On Jan. 14 the Hawkeyes play at Minnesota).
Iowa has won 19 games in a row against the Badgers. The last victory for Wisconsin in the series was 84-73 at Wisconsin on Feb. 11, 2007; the last win at Iowa was 88-78 on Feb. 6, 2005.
In Iowa’s win over Nebraska, the five Hawkeye starters played 37, 36, 35, 35, and 32 minutes.
“Your key players play a lot of minutes and that’s the way it will be for us,” Bluder said.
Iowa’s bench received contributions from sophomore Alexis Sevillian (eight points, three assists in 13 minutes), freshman Tomi Taiwo (three points in four minutes), junior Amanda Ollinger (five minutes), and freshman Monika Czinano (three minutes).
“I was glad we got Tomi in, I was glad we got Monika in, I felt Lexi came in and played some good minutes,” Bluder said. “I thought we had a little more added depth (Thursday).”
Along with Wisconsin’s performance against Purdue, Bluder is impressed with the way the Badgers rebound. Wisconsin leads the Big Ten in offensive rebounds and is plus-nine in rebounds per game. The Badgers are second in the Big Ten in blocked shots.
“They are getting more athletic as time goes on with (head coach) Jonathan (Tsipis) being there,” Bluder said. “Their (power forward) and (center) are really good post players. One of the things that worries me about this Wisconsin team is how good they rebound. They have done a good job of that.”
Iowa received a 12th double-double from senior center Megan Gustafson on Thursday against Nebraska (28 points, 17 rebounds). She leads the NCAA in scoring (26.8 points per game) and is fifth in rebounds per game (12.9). Gustafson is third in field goal percentage (71.1).
“If Megan gets the ball, something good is usually going to happen,” Bluder said. “Teams have got to try to wear her down and be as physical as possible. This Wisconsin game, they aren’t going to be as big, but they will be more agile — this is a different element of it.”