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Every loss counts the same.

Each setback has the same value in the stat sheet and the standings, but are all losses created equal?

For Lisa Bluder, no way.

"All losses aren't the same, not at all," Bluder said on Tuesday.

Bluder hasn't spent much time dealing with or talking about losses this season.

The Hawkeyes are 17-4 and 8-2 in Big Ten play after falling 93-88 at fifth-ranked, and Big Ten-leading, Maryland on Sunday.

Sunday's loss looked and felt much different than the Hawkeyes' previous two setbacks this season.

"To play that good and fight that hard and battle all game and still not come up with a win was obviously disappointing but you have to take the positives from it," Iowa senior Melissa Dixon said. "It showed us that we can compete with anybody in the conference."

Iowa's previous two meetings with top-10 teams were both against Louisville and both left the Hawkeyes with bad feelings.

The most recent matchup with the Cardinals was a lopsided 86-52 road loss in December.

Sunday's loss to the Terrapins left Bluder and her Hawkeyes with a completely different feeling.

"This one felt totally different than the Louisville one," Bluder said. "The Louisville one we did not compete and this one we competed."

Iowa may have outcompeted Maryland on Sunday.

The Hawkeyes led for nearly 26 minutes, including an early 8-0 lead, and held a 45-44 halftime advantage.

Iowa trailed by just two with under a minute to play against a Maryland team that has won 13 in a row and hasn't lost at home all season.

Heading into Iowa's trip to Maryland the Terrapins were winning Big Ten games by nearly 20 points per game. Maryland reached the Final Four a year ago.

"We learned that we can play with anyone," Dixon said. "We can compete with anybody in the country. We got to the No. 5 team in the country and it comes down to a two-point game with a minute left to go."

The loss at Maryland snapped a six-game winning streak for Iowa, but it may have actually raised the Hawkeyes' confidence.

That is welcome for a team that plays five of their final eight conference games against teams currently one game behind them in the Big Ten standings.

That stretch begins Thursday night with the first of two meetings with Ohio State (15-7, 7-3).

"I think what we took out of that game is that we can stick with anybody," Iowa senior Bethany Doolittle said. "As long as we play together as a team and play our game."

How impressed were viewers with Iowa's near miss at Maryland?

The Hawkeyes jumped four spots in The Associated Press Poll to No. 16 on Monday.

Part of that was a win over then-15th-ranked Nebraska and a victory at Northwestern on Thursday but even with voters' most recent memory a loss the Hawkeyes still climbed four spots.

"I feel like we have grown so much from that Louisville (loss) and even though we are disappointed about the loss (to Maryland) my first comment to the team afterwards is do not hang your heads," Bluder said. "We played our hearts out and it's disappointing that we lost but at the same time we don't feel bad about the loss."

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or rmurken@press-citizen.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.

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