IOWA CITY -- The cast has reunited. The final dress rehearsal is at hand.
No. 25 Iowa takes its final practice run before the Big Ten grind begins, hosting North Dakota in a women's basketball contest at 2 p.m. Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"There are a lot of things we need to shore up before we start our conference schedule," Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. "We've got to get better on defense. We're not getting to the free throw line enough; we need to attack teams a little better."
Still, if the Hawkeyes (11-2) take care of business Saturday, they've set themselves up quite nicely as they prepare for the Big Ten opener Jan. 5 at home against Penn State. They're 2-2 in games against top-25 competition.
The team dispersed shortly after a 73-51 win over Drake last Saturday, then reassembled in time for practice Thursday.
"I think it's healthy to get away from it all for a few days," Bluder said. "Now it's back to work."
In North Dakota (6-3), the Hawkeyes face a team with size.
"They're one of the bigger teams we'll face," Bluder said, alluding to the Fighting Sioux's 6-foot-4 center, Allyssa Wall, and her 6-5 backup, Emily Evers.
UND enjoys a plus-9.4 average on the boards.
It's the wings that do the damage on the scoreboard, though. Madi Buck averages 17.4 points per game. Mia Loyd, the reigning Big Sky player of the week, adds 13.4 per contest.
Iowa counters with Big Ten player of the week Samantha Logic, who posted her second career triple-double (12 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists) against Drake.
Bluder, who signed a one-year contract extension Thursday that carries her through the 2018-19 season, needs eight wins to surpass C. Vivian Stringer as Iowa’s all-time winningest coach.Saturday's encounter is the first between the Hawkeyes and North Dakota.