Hawkeyes travel to Maryland for showdown with Terrapins

Iowa and Maryland both hold a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Tonight’s game will break that tie and could serve as the de facto regular season championship game.


Megan Nagorzanski

Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer reacts to a foul drawn by Monika Czinano during a women's basketball game between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Monday Feb. 6, 2020.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

With just five games remaining in the regular season, there is a three-horse race atop the Big Ten featuring Iowa, Maryland, and Northwestern.

Tonight, the Hawkeyes and Terrapins will play in what could be the deciding game in the title race. Following tonight’s game, neither team will face an opponent from the top half of the conference.

“It’s pretty obvious that it’s a big game, but we’re going to just treat it like any other game,” Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle said. “Maryland’s a tough team, but we know we can beat them like we did before.”

The Hawkeyes should feel confident. They’ve won three-straight against the Terrapins over the past two seasons, but this will be Iowa’s first time venturing into the Xfinity Center since 2018 when they were defeated, 80-64. In fact, Iowa’s only win in College Park came all the way back in the 1992-93 season, before head coach Lisa Bluder took charge.

In Iowa’s prior matchup with the Terrapins this year, the Hawkeyes came out on top in what was a very sloppy game by both sides. Both teams combined for 45 turnovers in total. Maryland also outrebounded Iowa by 24 boards.

The Terrapins also had 38 offensive rebounds in that game, so cleaning the glass is something Iowa is focusing on in preparation for the big game.

“It was a nightmare,” Bluder said. “We have to be more aware of it, because that’s where they really got us on the high post.”

Since the loss to Iowa, Maryland has rattled off nine-straight Big Ten wins, including two wins against Indiana, a win against Northwestern, and road win against Michigan.

Maryland is battle-tested this season. The Terrapins played two of the nation’s top five teams early on in 2019-20.

RELATED: Carver-Hawkeye Arena a fortress for women’s basketball

The Terrapins have a very balanced offense with at least five players scoring 10 points per game.

One particular player the Hawkeyes will have to look for is Kaila Charles. Charles recorded a triple-double when the two teams first squared off in January. She has been dominant all year, averaging 14.9 points per game, 7.8 rebounds per game, and just under two steals per game.

Another player that caused problems last time out was Blair Watson. Despite an off shooting night (3-15 for eight points), she had nine steals to add to Iowa’s turnover woes.

With a tall task at hand, the Hawkeyes know the importance of being mentally tough. Their senior-led backcourt and road success are two things that could propel Iowa across the finish line in College Park.

“I think it’s just the energy we bring, and sometimes playing on the road, the crowds are not into it, you’re staying in a hotel the night before, so it’s a little harder,” Makenzie Meyer said.

Bluder had high praise for her backcourt, with the senior-led group being a large part of Iowa’s success.

“When your guards are that experienced, I think it helps when you’re playing on the road and down the stretch,” Bluder said. “They have the ball in their hand more than anybody, and when they’re in control, they’re believing.”

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