SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Mistakes on the offensive end were ubiquitous for Iowa women’s basketball in its 105-71 loss to Notre Dame on Thursday night. Right at the center of this concern were turnovers.
If the Irish had anything left to prove, they did so with the headaches it gave Iowa on the offensive side of the ball. They were able to snag 9 steals against the Hawkeyes.
Iowa did not help itself in this area. Many of these turnovers were unforced. Iowa struggled in the passing game, losing many possessions by way of missed cues.
“How do you improve on taking care of the ball? It comes down to passing decisions,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “You have to make better passing decisions, use ball fakes, be in triple-threat position, meet your passes. It’s fundamentals.”
In total, Iowa threw away 18 turnovers on the night, met only with 18 assists. The Irish converted the mistakes into 22 points, helping the team to its big win. Notre Dame did this cleanly, as the team only committed 9 turnovers on the night.
The sharp and crisp play of the Irish made it hard for Iowa to get anything going. Those 9 turnovers don’t look too bad when the team puts up 21 assists.
“We’re really excited about that assist-to-turnover ratio,” Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “That’s the thing that has been missing. We threw a lot of really good passes. And [Iowa is] a team that passes really well, so when we held them assist-to-turnover at 18-18, that was really important to us.”
This is not a single-game issue. Before the big loss to the Irish, the Hawkeyes were still at the bottom in the Big Ten in turnover margin, averaging 3.6 more turnovers than opponents.
This is not a new problem for the Hawkeyes. Iowa ranked last in the Big Ten in turnover margin last season, averaging 4.1 more turnovers per contest than opponents.
In Iowa’s first loss of the season to Florida State last weekend, keeping control of the ball was an obvious problem.
Iowa gave up a startling 25 points off turnovers to the Seminoles, throwing away 19 total turnovers on the night. Florida State won by 4 points, so it is easy to think that cleaner play from Iowa would easily close that gap.
While Notre Dame outplayed Iowa in nearly every facet of the game on Thursday night – rebounding and 3-point shooting, just to name a few – a cleaner effort with possessions would have gone a long way in narrowing the gap.
Especially in basketball, every possession is vital. Down the stretch, Iowa will see games much closer than the one it experienced in South Bend on Thursday. Routinely, taking care of the ball differentiates wins and losses – even on one or two possessions.
If Iowa is to have all of its ambitions realized – aspirations of which it is certainly capable – bringing down the turnovers would be a great place to start.
“Being able to look back and learn some lessons [is important],” forward Megan Gustafson said. “But at the same time, we have to forget and move on.”
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