Hawkeye women steal win over Jaguars with defense

Despite offensive woes, Iowa’s defensive effort won the day for the Hawkeyes over Indiana/Purdue-Indianapolis.

Iowa+guard+Tania+Davis+runs+for+the+ball+at+the+womens+basketball+game+against+IUPUI+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Saturday%2C+December+8%2C+2018.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Jaguars+72-58.+

Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Tania Davis runs for the ball at the women’s basketball game against IUPUI at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, December 8, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Jaguars 72-58.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

If defense wins championships, then the Iowa women’s basketball team has played to win over the past week.

Its 72-58 win over Indiana/Purdue-Indianapolis on Dec. 8 made it the third-straight game that the Hawkeyes held an opponent to 70 points or fewer.

What makes that feat especially impressive is they’ve been able to do it against good teams, with their last two wins coming against teams with top-30 RPIs.

“I think our defense in the second half was really good,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We knew this was going to be a hard-fought game. This is a good team, they’re well-coached, they’re fundamental, they work hard.”

Throughout the three-game streak, the second-half defense has been the story for the Hawkeyes.

RELATED: Hawkeye women top Jaguars despite 3-point woes

Specifically, their fourth-quarter defense. Over the past three games, Iowa has stifled teams in the fourth, holding them to just an average of 10.3 points.

In the past three fourth quarters, Iowa’s opponent shooting percentages are abysmal. Opponents are shooting just 30.5 percent (11-of-36) from the floor and 20 percent (3-of-15) from deep. A large chunk of the Hawkeye defense down the stretch against the Jaguars came thanks to some stellar guard play.

Iowa nabbed 8 steals in the second half of that game, with Tania Davis grabbing 3.

“Tania can create offense through her defense,” Bluder said. “[She] loves that part of the game, so it’s fun to see [her] out there really putting a defensive stamp on things.”

The great defense played by Iowa against the Jaguars was something that the Hawkeyes desperately needed, because it struggled on offense.

Everyone not named Megan Gustafson shot 33.3 percent from the floor and managed just 1 3-pointer in 14 attempts.

One Hawkeye in particular has played some exceptional defense during the current winning streak: Amanda Ollinger. As a regular off the bench, she is confident and comfortable in her role.

“It’s my role on the team to crash [the boards] hard and to play good defense, and I embrace that role completely,” she said. “If I feel like there’s anything I can do to help my teammates out, I am going to do that.”

She has done just that over the past three games — she has grabbed 12 boards and 4 steals, along with a block in 50 minutes of action.

Before hitting the hardwood again, Iowa will have a week off to focus on finals. It also means time for reflection.

“It will be a nice little break from games,” Gustafson said. “We’ll be able to focus on ourselves individually and get some rest. But at the same time, we’ll be able to reflect on what we’ve been able to do this season.”

Iowa will try to keep its stellar defense going when it takes on Northern Iowa Dec. 16 in Carver-Hawkeye at 2 p.m.

 

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