Doolittle, Hawkeyes ready for Cy-Hawk showdown
The list of similarities between in-state foes Iowa State and Iowa is lengthy.
Each team lost a single starter from teams that reached the NCAA tournament a year ago.
Iowa (7-2) is averaging 80.9 points per game this season, while Iowa State (5-1) is scoring 81.3 per game. Both have four double-digit scorers.
Each team relies on the 3-pointer, with Iowa hitting eight triples per game and the Cyclones making 10 per outing.
With so many things seemingly dead-even on paper entering Thursday's 7:10 p.m. meeting between the long-time rivals, both teams are no doubt looking for any advantage available.
The 24th-ranked Hawkeyes believe they have just that in senior center Bethany Doolittle.
Doolittle will be making her fourth straight appearance in the Cy-Hawk game, opposite Iowa State freshman post Bryanna Fernstrom, who is getting her first taste of the in-state rivalry.
"We have a veteran post, and their post is a freshman," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "She (Fernstrom) is playing well, don't get me wrong, and she is big, she's bigger than Beth. But Beth, with her experience — I think that's a good thing for Beth."
The lone newcomer in the Iowa State lineup this season, the 6-foot-5 Fernstrom is off to a strong start.
Fernstrom poured in 25 points in her college debut and is averaging 11 points and 3.8 rebounds per game this season.
The Minnesota native will face her toughest test of the season Thursday when she goes up against Doolittle, another Minnesota native who is third all-time at Iowa in blocked shots.
"It's just a different dynamic, because I have never played against her before," Doolittle said. "She is from Minnesota but I haven't played against her. She's a good player, I'll just try to get a feel for her in the first half and in the first couple of minutes and go from there."
An all-Big Ten selection last season, Doolittle already has three double-doubles this season and is averaging 10.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
The 6-foot-4 Doolittle is averaging 11 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last three games.
"We feel that Beth is always an advantage for us in every single game," Iowa senior Melissa Dixon said. "Especially in this game they have a couple of young posts and her matchup against them is going to be really great so we look to get the ball in to her a little bit more."
The Hawkeyes are hoping that Doolittle's experience and presence in the paint paired with playing at home are enough to help avenge last year's 83-70 loss to the Cyclones in Ames.
The home team has won seven straight games in the series and 12 of the past 13.
A road team hasn't won since Iowa State won in Carver Hawkeye Arena in 2006.
Since 2007, only two games have been decided by less than 10 points.
"Being at home helps an enormous amount," Iowa sophomore Ally Disterhoft said. "The crowd, they may not realize it, but they have the ability to really influence the game and it would be awesome to come out there to 6,000, 7,000 screaming fans. We are looking forward to that. We think that our fans really are going to come out and support us."
Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or email@example.com.
Iowa State (5-1) at Iowa (7-2)
• Specifics — 7:10 p.m. Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
• Following the game —TV:Big Ten Network Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring: www.hawkeyesports.com.
• Preview — Iowa will try to avenge last year's 83-70 loss to the Cyclones and stretch the winning streak for home teams in the annual in-state showdown to eight. Both teams have four players averaging in double figures. Ally Disterhoft leads Iowa with 15.1 points per game while Seanna Johnson leads Iowa State with 14.7 points per game.