Offensive production on the upswing for Iowa women’s hoops

After lagging in losses to No. 1 Notre Dame and Florida State, Iowa’s offense had problems. Offensive production boosted in the win over Robert Morris, as the offense seeks to compete with the nation’s top teams.

Guard+Tania+Davis+attempts+a+three-pointer+during+the+women%27s+basketball+game+at+Carver+Hawkeye+Arena+on+Dec.+2%2C+2018.+The+Hawkeyes+won+against+Robert+Morris+92-63.+
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Offensive production on the upswing for Iowa women’s hoops

Guard Tania Davis attempts a three-pointer during the women's basketball game at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 2, 2018. The Hawkeyes won against Robert Morris 92-63.

Guard Tania Davis attempts a three-pointer during the women's basketball game at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 2, 2018. The Hawkeyes won against Robert Morris 92-63.

Roman Slabach

Guard Tania Davis attempts a three-pointer during the women's basketball game at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 2, 2018. The Hawkeyes won against Robert Morris 92-63.

Roman Slabach

Roman Slabach

Guard Tania Davis attempts a three-pointer during the women's basketball game at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Dec. 2, 2018. The Hawkeyes won against Robert Morris 92-63.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

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Several problems pestered Iowa’s offense in its losses to Florida State and No. 1 Notre Dame last week. But a strong showing against Robert Morris boosted offensive production.

The high-powered offense led by strong shooting and Megan Gustafson in the paint was nearly unstoppable in the first games of the season. The squad eclipsed 90 points in each of its first four games of the season, putting up more than 100 in three of those.

In the team’s first two losses of the season, to No. 1 Notre Dame and Florida State, Iowa’s offense struggled to produce the numbers to which it had grown accustomed.

To start, the Hawkeyes struggled from 3-point land. The team shot better than 40 percent in each of its three games this season; in the losses against Notre Dame and Florida State, the team was not able to top 27.

Iowa struggled with passing in the losses as well, with the squad averaging only 1 assist for every turnover it committed in both. A major part of the team’s shooting struggle was caused by a lagging passing game that couldn’t get shooters open looks from 3-point range.

RELATED: Iowa women’s third-quarter run halts Robert Morris

These mistakes and lackluster play — and yes, strong defense from Notre Dame — held Iowa to only 71 points against the Irish and 67 against Florida State.

These problems were dealt with in Iowa’s win over Robert Morris on Sunday. The team went 8-of-20 from beyond the arc and was able to put up 28 assists to only 16 turnovers. The Hawkeyes got back at it, putting up 92 points.

“I was happy with the way we shot the ball, but we were getting good shots,” head coach Lisa Bluder said after the win.

With the passing game back in full motion, Iowa got cleaner looks from 3 and gave Robert Morris a hard time. All of which excited Bluder.

“I’m just happy I coach a team with the mentality that they love the assist and they are going to take what’s there,” Bluder said. “They don’t care about getting theirs, they care about the team … I’m very happy that they recognize that, and go out, and get the high-percentage shot.”

Preseason All-Big Ten guard Kathleen Doyle is set to return soon, with her injury recovery nearly completed. The last few games have certainly helped the Hawkeyes learn how to pass the ball and gain chemistry; with Doyle back on the court, the offense could be as lethal as ever.

Meanwhile, Iowa State comes up this week for the Hawkeyes. The Cyclones have only given up 59.4 points per game so far this season, so the Hawkeye offense will have to work to have a strong showing.

“This week is special for anyone who goes to Iowa,” Gustafson said. “It’s a really great rivalry. We want to beat them.”

With this and conference matchups approaching, it was a good time for a reckoning for the Iowa offense. The team hopes to capitalize on the lessons it has learned in recent weeks and continue its upward trajectory.

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