Hawkeye women’s basketball hopes to avoid losing streak in Lincoln

Iowa looks to avoid its second losing streak of the season with its second road game in a row against Nebraska on Monday.

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Katina Zentz

Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle runs to pick up the ball during the women’s basketball game vs. Maryland at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, February 17, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Terrapins 86-73.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

A heartbreaking loss in Indiana on Feb. 21 won’t slow the season down at all for the No. 10 Iowa women’s basketball team (21-6, 12-4 Big Ten) as it gets set for another road matchup against Nebraska (13-14, 8-8 Big Ten).

It will be played in Lincoln in the Hawkeyes’ second Monday night game of the season.

The road has not been the kindest of places for Iowa this season — it has gone 7-6 away from Carver-Hawkeye, but it’s something the squad has dealt with better since a road loss to Michigan on Feb. 1.

“They are very driven, focused and locked in,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Maybe that Michigan loss did that for us. It showed us you can’t take any day or practice off. Ever since that game, our team has been dialed in and ready to go to work.”

If the 90-81 Michigan loss at the beginning of the month was such a catalyst — Iowa followed up that loss by rattling off four straight wins, including two against ranked opponents — its more recent 75-73 loss to Indiana could provide a similar spark.

Besides its latest defeat, Iowa also has the Big Ten regular-season race to look to for motivation.

Currently, the Hawkeyes sit second in the Big Ten standings, a game behind No. 8 Maryland for the top spot. However, perhaps more importantly, they are merely a game and a half ahead of third-place Rutgers.

While a regular-season Big Ten title is certainly goal No. 1 for Iowa, it will serve the Hawkeyes well to ensure a top-two spot in the Big Ten for the upcoming conference tournament.

RELATED: Iowa women drop heartbreaker to Indiana

Iowa’s hopes of a regular-season title may be running a bit thin, but the Big Ten Tournament is still up for grabs, and securing a top-two seed means the Hawkeyes need just three wins to take the crown as opposed to four.

“As a player, you want to play for championships,” said Kathleen Doyle, whose 40 steals in conference play ranks second in the Big Ten. “We have to focus on the next one in front of us, because the one after that won’t matter unless you get the job done in the first one.”

The postseason is always an important thing to play for, but the Hawkeyes also have a little bit of pride to play for.

They were recently recognized by the Associated Press as a top-10 team in the country, and instead of being content with that honor, Iowa is instead eager to prove its worth.

“It’s exciting to see our hard work pay off, and we have to keep it going,” forward Megan Gustafson said. “We have the confidence, and we know we’re a top-10 team. Because we’re a top-10 team doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to prove. We do, and we have to take that into everything we do from here on out.”

Iowa’s Belichick-like mindset of “on to the next game” has helped the Hawkeyes endure just one losing streak all season, in November. The Hawkeyes hope that mantra will garner more success against the Huskers.

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