The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s basketball notebook | Hawkeyes back home to host challenges in Kansas State, Drake

The Hawkeyes are happy to return to the fans and ease of travel at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the week.
Grace Smith
Iowa celebrates during a timeout during the Ally Tipoff, a basketball game between No. 3 Iowa and No. 8 Virginia Tech at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. Iowa scored 42 points in the paint compared to Virginia Tech’s 20. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hokies, 80-76.

The Iowa women’s basketball team is back in Iowa City for a two-game home slate this week, but neither game will be easy.

The Hawkeyes are coming off of wins over then-No. 8 Virginia Tech in Charlotte, North Carolina — after which the team returned to Iowa at 2:30 a.m. — and Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls last week. 

After almost four days of rest and practice, the Hawkeyes are happy to return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to host Kansas State on Thursday and Drake on Sunday with Iowa fans around them and without the exhaustion of travel.

“It’s just fun to play in Carver,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It’s so fun to come out into Carver and to see the excitement and the joy that we’re bringing to this group of fans, so that’s pretty special.”

But nothing about these two opponents will be a breeze.

The Hawkeyes and Wildcats last squared off last season, the Hawkeyes falling, 84-83, in what was just the fourth game of their season.

Wildcat guard Gabby Gregory scored 24 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 12-of-14 from the free throw line despite missing all six of her shots from deep in that contest.

“We’re anxious to play them again,” Bluder said. “We know we’ll have a battle on our hands.”

With Thursday’s matchup against Kansas State again the fourth game of this season, Iowa needing to maintain focus to gather momentum this season, Gregory will be an important player for the Hawkeyes to target and shut down in order to constrict the Wildcats’ offense.

“Gregory’s a great player; she’s going to do a lot for them,” Iowa guard Kylie Feuerbach said. “But they definitely have a lot of weapons.”

And indeed they do as the Wildcats return 6-foot-6 center Ayoka Lee, a player with an impressive resume that includes the women’s NCAA Division I record for points in a single game with 61.

Lee missed last season due to an ACL tear but is nearing a return to 100 percent: She notched a double-double against Little Rock on Nov. 11 with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Expect Iowa centers Sharon Goodman and Addison O’Grady to rotate in and out and play physically with Lee down low on defense.

But with Hawkeye forward Hannah Stuelke molding into a stretch big role beyond just post play, she will be a key piece in an Iowa offense that does not need to rely on Caitlin Clark so heavily. 

Stuelke boasts a quicker first step and athleticism for her size and even a jump shot that could come in handy if matched up against a bigger defender, but she will need to stay out of foul trouble on the other end of the floor to maximize her impact.

On Sunday, the Hawkeyes will turn around quickly and welcome the in-state rival Drake Bulldogs, who took Iowa to overtime in Des Moines last year, although Iowa won by six.

The Bulldogs are 3-0 this season and beat Iowa State, 85-73, on Nov. 12 behind 27 points — aided by 6-of-9 from deep — from guard Taylor McAulay. Three Bulldogs scored 20-plus points in the contest.

With such a tough schedule so early this year, the Hawkeye mindset is fixed on the present.

“They’re both really great teams, and I think we always talk about taking it one game at a time,” Iowa guard Sydney Affolter said. “We’re not looking at the end destination. We’re working on the journey and the process, and I think that’s really important for us. After one game, we move on. Win or lose, we’ve got to move on to the next.”

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About the Contributors
Colin Votzmeyer, Assistant Sports Editor
Colin Votzmeyer is a junior at the University of Iowa studying journalism and mass communication with minors in history and criminology, law, and justice. Prior to his role as assistant sports editor, he previously served as digital producer, news reporter covering crime, cops, and courts, and sports reporter covering track and field and women's basketball. He plans on attending law school after his graduation with hopes of pursuing a career as a criminal defense attorney.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.