Another road trip, another narrow escape for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
Three days after stealing one at Minnesota in the final seconds, the Hawkeyes produced another late rally against a Wisconsin team stuck in the Big Ten cellar. Iowa erased a 15-point halftime deficit and finally found separation in the final minutes for a 85-78 win Sunday afternoon at the Kohl Center. The No. 24 Hawkeyes (15-3, 6-1 Big Ten Conference) survived their first tests as a ranked squad — but not by much.
Wisconsin (9-9, 1-6) had dropped five of six, including three straight by double digits, but that hardly mattered as the Badgers constructed a 50-35 intermission lead by shooting better than 60%. Iowa looked like a team that had slogged through a grueling affair just a few days prior.
Suddenly, Iowa awoke with an emphatic third quarter and snatched momentum once in striking range. The Hawkeyes trailed by one with 2:39 remaining before putting things away from there. Monika Czinano ripped off six straight points on a layup and four free throws, leading to more charity-stripe insurance once Wisconsin started fouling.
Twenty-point outings from Makenzie Meyer (22 points), Kathleen Doyle (21) and Czinano (20) spearheaded Iowa’s second-half comeback, which began with an 18-2 run 90 seconds into the third quarter. The Hawkeyes went from down 15 to up one, 55-54, with 3:57 left in the period on a barrage of Meyer treys. Experience and veteran poise took over then as Iowa avoided a massive upset when it needed to.
Although Lisa Bluder and company likely wanted this week to run a little smoother, these experiences in tight affairs should prove beneficial for Iowa’s young players. Conference road wins over anyone carry value in the standings and beyond, even if the Hawkeyes struggled against two teams heading in the wrong direction.
With two home games on deck — Thursday versus Ohio State and Sunday against Michigan State — Iowa can regroup knowing it survived two subpar performances. As Bluder often says, lessons are better learned after wins of any kind.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.