IOWA CITY — The Iowa Hawkeyes have crafted a nice three-game road winning streak.
They’ve done it at Columbus, where they’d struggled mightily for decades. They’ve done it at Madison and Minneapolis, where they’ve always had good fortunes.
This is something else altogether.
The Hawkeyes (17-6 overall, 5-4 Big Ten) face a mighty challenge Thursday, when they face league-leading, 10th-ranked Penn State (17-4, 8-1).
Tipoff is 5 p.m. (Iowa time) at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.
“Well, we obviously know we’re up against the wall going to Penn State,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said following the Hawkeyes’ 80-67 loss to Nebraska on Saturday. “We know we’ve got a tough challenge.”
Iowa has experienced difficulties against the Big Ten’s elite. Among their four losses are three to the top three teams — Penn State, Michigan State and Nebraska — all at home, all by double digits.
Penn State thrashed the Hawkeyes, 87-71, on Jan. 5.
Maggie Lucas scored 27 points in that game, and the Lady Lions’ size was far too much for the Hawkeyes, particularly when Bethany Doolittle fell into foul trouble.
The Hawkeyes have dropped five straight games to the Lady Lions.
Saturday against Nebraska, the Hawkeyes continued a bad habit by falling behind early against a top team.
“I thought the first half, we went away from what we do and we tried to create things for ourselves instead of just letting the offense work,” Bluder said.
“That’s frustrating because you know 25 games into it, we should trust our offense, we should know that we are the No. 1 scoring team in the Big Ten for a reason, and let it happen, instead of trying to create stuff.”
The Hawkeyes average a Big Ten-best 80.0 points per game, but their 69.2 points per game allowed is 10th.