Iowa women’s hoops ‘having fun’ with hot start

The Hawkeyes are undefeated, but they don\’t seem to be bothered by their perfect record.

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The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lily

Head coach Lisa Bluder high fives Iowa guard Tania Davis during the Iowa/Quinnipiac basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bobcats, 83-67, for head coach Lisa Bluder’s 700 career win. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Sean Bock, [email protected]

As the old saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

The Iowa women’s basketball team is off to its best start since the 2010-11 season but doesn’t seem to be bothered by their unblemished kickoff to the year.

“We talk about being undefeated in an enjoyment area,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Just being able to enjoy that we are 7-0, not that we have pressure, but we’re just having fun with it.”

The Hawkeyes weren’t ranked in the last AP Top 25 poll but did receive 17 votes and could sneak in with a win against No. 13 Florida State on Wednesday.

Iowa’s nonconference schedule is considered to be one of the most challenging in the country, but the team has found ways to get the job done.

“Winning is a lot more fun than losing,” guard Kathleen Doyle said. “So, we have been having a lot of fun. But we’re not focused on being undefeated, we’re just having a good time, and we’re feeling it right now.”

Things looked a little cloudy when Doyle went down with an ankle injury against Western Kentucky on Nov. 11. Initially, the sophomore point guard was expected to be back around Christmas. But being the competitor she is, Doyle saw action in last week’s tournament and seems to be getting back to full strength.

“I think Kathleen [Doyle] is really close to getting back to where she was before her injury,” Bluder said. “It was nice because we were able to hold her out of those two games at home and kind of ease her back in. By the last game, we put her back into the starting lineup. We need Kathleen because of depth, and she’s a bigger guard that gives us a number of different point guards.”

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In Doyle’s absence, redshirt freshman guard Alexis Sevillian stepped up and provided a much-needed boost in the backcourt.

Through the first seven games, Sevillian is second on the team in scoring at 13.6 points per game, and she has shot 42 percent from 3-point land.

“I think everyone would be surprised that she’s our second-leading scorer,” Bluder said. “She’s just fearless shooting now. She has that shooter’s mentality where’s she’s not going to worry about putting it up and doesn’t care if she misses one because she’s going to keep firing away. She just has a scorer’s mentality.”

Arguably the biggest reason for Iowa’s early season success has been forward Megan Gustafson.

The junior is averaging 21.3 points and 13.4 rebounds and has had a double-double in every game dating back to Colorado on March 23 of last season.

“Being able to have that mentality coming in that I’m going to get rebounds gets our offense going,” Gustafson said. “For me, it really feeds off rebounding.”

On Wednesday, the Hawkeyes will go head-to-head with the No. 13 Seminoles as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The test will be difficult, but Iowa is ready to ace it.

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