Emotions are riding high for Iowa women’s basketball right now. With Indiana/Purdue Indianapolis coming to town to take on the Hawkeyes on Saturday afternoon, the team is feeling good.
The game against Iowa State gave Iowa many gifts, including a game-winning shot and the return of preseason All-Big Ten guard Kathleen Doyle.
Some moments can define seasons. The game-winner from senior Tania Davis will be talked about in Iowa City for a long time.
“You’re in the gym by yourself, you do step-backs [like that] all the time,” Davis said. “[Their guards] gave me too much space.”
The game against Iowa State was also historic for the team, with senior Megan Gustafson breaking the program’s all-time rebounding record. It’s clear that the record will last for quite a while.
“She’s one of the best offensive rebounders I’ve ever coached,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “To go out and break the record against Iowa State and having 16 rebounds, she’s going to demolish this. We’re only in Game 7, and this was a record that stood for 40 years.”
Gustafson is poised to make some more history this weekend. She sits at 1,990 career points, only 10 shy of the 2,000-point mark.
If she surpasses that target in Saturday’s game, she will become only the third player in the history of the program to do so.
The Jaguars have proven to be pretty dangerous thus far into the season. The team took Wisconsin into overtime and upset Ole Miss. They are sitting at 6-2 on the year, a record identical to Iowa’s.
Center Macee Williams will take on Gustafson in the paint. She averages 19.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest but will have her hands full on Saturday.
It will be a tall task for the Jaguars to keep up with the Hawkeyes. With Doyle back on the floor, Iowa caught a glimpse of what kind of team it could be.
However, there is work to be done. Doyle would be the first to tell you that there was some rust, but the pure fact that she was on the floor was cause for celebration.
“I struggled a lot, not being able to play,” Doyle said. “Anyone that knows me knows I love playing basketball. I’m so happy to be on this team but staying around this team and remaining a leader [helped]. I’m so happy I can play again.”
Having struggled this season with shooting and turnovers in losses to Florida State and Notre Dame, Iowa has been doing a lot to alleviate these problems.
The team won the turnover battle against Iowa State, committing three fewer than the Cyclones. The Hawkeyes also shot 15-for-15 from the free-throw line and 50 percent from the field in the first half.
With the team nearly at full health, this is an important stretch for Iowa. The team has improved in many facets of its game but must become more cohesive before Big Ten play starts.
Especially with its full starting lineup ready to go for the first time this season, the weekend will be an interesting insight into the rest of the season for Hawkeye women’s basketball.
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