The Iowa Hawkeyes’ swing through Florida has featured a head-scratching loss, an eye-opening win and an eight-hour bus ride.
The Hawkeyes (4-2) conclude their Sunshine State sojourn Wednesday against high-scoring Florida State (5-0) as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Tipoff is 6 p.m. at the Donald Tucker Center in Tallahassee.
“It’s our biggest test of the year so far,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said in a teleconference Tuesday afternoon.
Iowa earned a split in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic last week, just not the way you figured it would happen. The Hawkeyes lost to host Florida International, 66-65, in the first round on a last-second layup, then bounced back to beat then-No. 12 West Virginia, 79-70, in the consolation game.
“We’ve been there before. We’ve had bad losses before,” Bluder said. “Our senior captains (Jaime Printy, Morgan Johnson and Trisha Nesbitt), they know how to get the team back up.”
Printy made 17 of 17 free throws in the West Virginia game.
Then came the long bus ride from Miami to Tallahassee. Eight hours.
“Actually, it went pretty quick,” Bluder said. “We got (the movie) Elf to get us in the Christmas spirit.”
Florida State has been a surprise this season. The Seminoles are averaging 82.8 points per game, and all five starters are averaging in double figures.
Natasha Howard and Leonor Rodgiruez lead the way at 16 points per game apiece.
“They’re so explosive,” Bluder said. “They run transition extremely well and they crash (the boards) well.”
Johnson leads the Hawkeyes at 18.1 points per game. Bethany Doolittle, the Hawks’ other post, notched a career-high 17 points against West Virginia.
“We’re a much harder team to guard when Bethany is putting those kind of numbers up for us,” Bluder said.