Hawkeye women look to improve shooting to beat Gophers

A 17.6 3-point shooting percentage and foul trouble plagued Iowa in its loss to Purdue.


David Harmantas

Iowa forward Megan Gustafson tries to block a shot during a women’s basketball game against Iowa State University at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones 73-70.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball hopes to bounce back against No. 18 Minnesota tonight in the Twin Cities.

The No. 17 Hawkeyes suffered their fourth loss of the season to Purdue on Jan. 10.

Typically a team full of strong shooters, Iowa struggled against the Purdue defense. The Boilermakers were able to contest shots aggressively, holding Iowa to 17.6 percent from 3-point range.

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The Hawkeyes know they can shoot better and that opponents will pay if they leave shots uncontested.

“[Defenses] have to come out and guard us,” guard Kathleen Doyle said after the team’s win against Wisconsin on Jan. 7 in Carver-Hawkeye. “We’re all confident shooters.”

Numerous players have struggled to get things going this season. Makenzie Meyer, dominant from beyond the arc last season for the Hawkeyes, was 2-for-10 in the loss to Purdue.

Overall, field-goal shooting has been consistently good for the squad, largely because of center Megan Gustafson’s dependably high percentage.

The team also needs to find ways to keep Gustafson and Hannah Stewart in the game down the stretch. The pair fell into foul trouble in the fourth against Purdue, effectively killing the team’s chances.

Similarly, Minnesota also seeks to get back into the win column.

The Gophers have struggled in recent weeks; they were hot early, winning their first 12 games. A three-game losing streak has followed.

If the Gophers can regain their early season style, it will be a tough game for the Hawkeyes. Minnesota has grown into a stout defense this year, ranking third in the Big Ten in both scoring defense and scoring margin.

Though the Iowa bigs are used to dominating the paint, they may run into some resistance with Minnesota. Forward Taiye Bello is second in the Big Ten in rebounding with 12.3 per contest, behind only Gustafson’s 12.9.

Because of the dominance she has displayed time and again, Gustafson knows the work that opponents put in to preparing for her.

“My game mentally has to be ready to go no matter what in the Big Ten,” she said after Iowa’s win over Nebraska on Jan. 3 in Carver-Hawkeye. “I have a big target on my back right now, so I have to be ready for that night after night.”

Gustafson will attempt to notch her nation-leading 15th double-double of the season against the Gophers.

Even though the team has begun Big Ten play with a lackluster .500 record, head coach Lisa Bluder is not concerned.

“Every game is important,” Bluder said after the loss to Purdue. “We’re playing on the road, and it’s tough to win on the road, but it’s not like I want to put all this pressure on them … it’s not that time of year at all. We have to go in there, and play our best, and hopefully, the results show in our favor.”

The Hawkeyes have shown that they can clean up their play midseason. The team had major struggles with turnovers early, losing the ball a combined 37 times in back-to-back early season losses to Florida State and Notre Dame.

That problem has largely been alleviated. The team has only lost the ball 10 times in each of its last two games.

If the team can improve in similar ways against Minnesota, it should be able to bring home a victory.

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