Iowa women’s basketball looking for first win against Northwestern in two seasons

After falling to the Wildcats earlier this season, the Hawkeyes have a shot at redemption when they travel to Evanston this Friday.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark drives to the basket during a women’s basketball game between No. 25 Iowa and Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. Clark scored 18 points. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 82-56.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball hasn’t suffered a defeat since early January, riding a six-game win streak in the middle of Big Ten play.

On Friday, Northwestern will put that streak to the test. The Wildcats handed the Hawkeyes their most recent loss, 77-69, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 6. That loss caused Iowa to briefly drop out of the AP Top 25 Poll.

Now, the Hawkeyes are back up to No. 23 in the nation and averaging 93.5 points per game. Iowa is also holding opponents to a mere 69.8 point average in the six-game win streak.

“I think we’re doing a better job offensively of finding good shots, and I think our threes are falling for us which always helps us in all regards,” head coach Lisa Bluder said on Thursday. ”I think we feel good about ourselves right now, and I think confidence is such a big part of this game, it’s amazing what it’ll do for you. I think we’re just a lot more confident and aggressive than we were playing [against Northwestern on Jan. 6].”

The Hawkeyes have this newfound confidence amid a slew of cancellations, postponements, and rescheduled games.

Iowa’s game against Northwestern on Friday will be its third in six days. The Hawkeyes took on Illinois on Jan. 23, and Penn State on Jan. 25.

But the Hawkeyes are focusing on controlling what they can.

“The team is doing great, we talked about how you can’t control change,” Bluder said. “Like the Penn State game wasn’t supposed to happen [on Jan. 25], but we handled it really well. Our flight was delayed three hours that night. We were supposed to get home at a reasonable time, but we didn’t get home till one o’clock and they handled it really well. So, I’m really excited about the maturity of this team.”

When Iowa took on Northwestern Jan. 6, senior center Monika Czinano and junior forward McKenna Warnock were playing in their first game back since entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols in early January.

RELATED: Caitlin Clark sets assists record as Iowa women’s basketball downs Penn State

Sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark doesn’t see the Hawkeyes’ situation as an excuse for the loss to the Wildcats.

“I still thought we should have beat them,” Clark said. “We were the better team. I think we’ve only improved to where we are, at this point, kind of on a streak right now. I haven’t beat Northwestern in my college career yet, 0-3, so they’ve had our number, but I really want to get them back, especially on their home floor.”

Clark has also never reigned victorious over Maryland, Ohio State, or Indiana. The Hawkeyes have yet to play those three teams this season.

The Wildcats are led by senior Veronica Burton, the two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Burton scored 25 points in her first meeting against Iowa this season and is averaging 16.9 points per game in 2021-22.

Iowa and Northwestern will face off at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on BTN+.