The sophomore point guard scored 10 and added a season-high eight assists.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — As important as Ally Disterhoft and Megan Gustafson are to the Hawkeyes’ offense, Tania Davis keys the engine.
Her no-hesitation 3-pointers open the floor for everyone else. Her speed and size — 5-foot-4 — allow her to knife inside and dish out to open shooters. Her eagle-eye accuracy on full-court, fastbreak passes creates instant offense and gets her shooters revved up on easy baskets.
She’s small in stature. But she’s bigger than big for Iowa’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
And if she keeps playing like she has lately, those hopes look pretty good.
In Iowa’s past three games (loss vs. Maryland, win at Rutgers, win vs. Minnesota), Davis is averaging 16.7 points and shooting 51.9 percent with 4.7 assists and two steals per game. Before that stretch, she was averaging 9.7 points and shooting 39.8 percent with 4.1 assists and less than a steal per game.
"I love it," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "I said to Tania the next day at practice (after playing Maryland), I said, ‘Hey, my point guard’s got her mojo back and I really like to see it.’ And she said, ‘I do, too.’ I think she needed a breakout game like that again, and now we’ve just got to keep it rolling."
Davis has set six season-highs in the past three games: 25 points against Maryland, seven shots made against Maryland, nine free throws made and 11 attempted against Rutgers, four steals against Rutgers and eight assists against Minnesota.
"I definitely feel like my mojo is back," Davis said after beating the Gophers. "In the first half I kind of got down on myself, but my great teammates, coaching staff, everybody in that bench — they had the utmost confidence in myself. They just believe in me so much so I just don’t want to let them down. So I definitely believe I have my mojo back."
The eight-assist effort against Minnesota brought Davis’ Big Ten average to 5.4 a game, tied for sixth in the conference with Indiana’s Tyra Buss and Rutgers’ Khadaizha Sanders.
And that means much more to Davis than her point total.
"Just seeing the joy on my teammates’ faces when they get out and run and when they see the ball go through," she said. "A scorer like Ally, you definitely have to see the ball going through the hoop so you can get your mojo going. So when I can hit Ally or anybody on that long break and see them see the ball go through the hoop, that brings me the most joy."
Davis’ resurgence goes hand-in-hand with Iowa’s. The Hawkeyes have played four consistently good games in a row — yes, even on the road against Rutgers, where they picked up their first conference win away from home.
TAKEAWAYS: More from Iowa's win over Minnesota
Since that ugly 71-58 loss at Penn State, Iowa is 3-1, with the one loss coming in a mostly close game against a Final Four-caliber team in Maryland. The Hawkeyes are now tied for fourth in the Big Ten at 4-3.
"That does just give us a lot of confidence going forward," Disterhoft said. "We’ve been making progress all year and, like coach said earlier, we’re playing really great team basketball. We have a great inside game and we’re also developing that outside game. When (Tania) can lead that break, Kathleen (Doyle) and (I) can lead out and it’s fun to play like that. It’s fun to hit the next person when they’re open. I think we all feel really good about that, but we want to keep getting better every single day."
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.