Hawkeye women's focus: Shore up 'D,' rebounding

Women's basketball: Still seeking first Big Ten win, Iowa hosts Minnesota

Jeff Linder
Published: January 7 2014 | 9:35 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:45 am in

IOWA CITY -- The Iowa Hawkeyes can't change their physical makeup in the wake of an 0-2 Big Ten start.

But they can adjust.

"We're not going to get bigger or faster or stronger in the next two days," Coach Lisa Bluder said after the Hawkeyes' 87-71 loss to Penn State on Sunday. "It's going to come down to fundamentals and communication."

The Hawkeyes (12-4 overall, 0-2 Big Ten) try to plug the leak that has sprung defensively and reverse a mini-slump when they host Minnesota (11-4, 0-1) Wednesday.

Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa surrendered 86 points in a Big Ten-opening loss at Indiana before yielding 87 to the Lady Lions on Sunday. That simply has to change.

"The Big Ten is a really long season," said guard Melissa Dixon. "We need to use the (Penn State) loss and learn from it. We have to get back to fundamentals and playing Iowa basketball."

First order of business: Taking care of the boards. Iowa was outrebounded 50-34 by Penn State, and outscored 16-1 in second-chance points.

There's your ball game.

"If we can just clear one thing, in my opinion, it would be the boxouts," Bluder said.

"In my opinion, I think our help-side (defense) is very average right now. I think we have to get better help side positions so that people can't get to the rim as easily against us, as well."

Minnesota figured to be an ascendant team in the Big Ten this year, and its non-conference play reflected that. But the Gophers' growth was stunted somewhat in its Big Ten opener, an 81-56 loss at home to Michigan State.

Junior guard Rachel Banham is one of the Big Ten's best, averaging 20.6 points per game. She shoots 48 percent from long distance.

Amanda Zahui, a 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman from Sweden, adds 15.2 points and 10.9 rebounds per contest.

Iowa counters with balance -- four players (Dixon, Samantha Logic, Bethany Doolittle and Ally Disterhoft) are averaging in double-figures, and Theairra Taylor is close. Dixon leads at 15.3 points per game; she scored 22 against Penn State.

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