Melissa Dixon shooting her way into Iowa's record book
The best shooter in the Big Ten Conference is also the league's worst-kept secret.
There certainly isn't a coach, and perhaps not even a player, in the league that is unaware of Melissa Dixon's 3-point shooting prowess.
In fact, the Iowa senior can pretty much write her own scouting report for opponents.
"I'm sure it says 'shooter' on it pretty big," Dixon said. "It probably says 'just deny her the ball.' "
Luckily for the Hawkeyes, knowing Dixon can shoot and finding a way to stop her from doing so are two entirely different tasks.
One of the most prolific shooters in Iowa history, Dixon is putting together the best season of her decorated career.
Dixon ranks fifth in the nation and leads the Big Ten with 3.8 3-point field goals per game after hitting a school-record 10 triples and scoring 31 points in No. 23 Iowa's (9-2) 100-98 win over Drake on Sunday.
The senior is shooting a career-best 47.7 percent from 3-point range this season to rank third in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally.
"If you leave her open she is as good as anybody in the conference at making 3s," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "There is no doubt in my mind."
Drilling 3-pointers in nothing new for Dixon.
In fact the Johnsburg, Ill. native has been doing it for as long as she can remember.
She developed her jump shot hoisting thousands of shots in her backyard as a youth.
Her trademark quick release that Bluder called the fastest she's seen was forged out of necessity when playing against her older brothers and their friends.
That quick release has allowed the 5-foot-8 Dixon to get shots off against taller opponents.
"Her release is so quick you have to be right on her for her to not get a shot up," Iowa senior point guard Samantha Logic said. "Then she has been working on her drive and she has such a quick first step she can go by you so it's something that just extends the defense and opens up the court for everyone else."
The all-time leader in 3-point field goals at Johnsburg High, Dixon's reputation as a dead-eye shooter preceded her to Iowa.
Dixon has lived up to that reputation during her time in Iowa City.
She has made at least 35 3-pointers in all four of her seasons at Iowa, including a school-record 97 last season and has 252 in her career.
Dixon needs just 10 3-pointers to surpass Lindsey Meder as the Hawkeyes' career leader in 3-pointers.
"Honestly I never would have thought it would be anything like it's been," Dixon said. "Coming in, any second that I got on the court I was just really thankful."
Dixon came to Iowa as a shooter but she'll leave a complete offensive player.
The senior has improved her ability to put the ball on the floor and is averaging a career-best 14.6 points per game this season.
"I think the thing that she has improved on the most is learning to attack off the dribble," Bluder said. "Coming in she was probably just a spot-up shooter and now she is confident doing both."
Dixon has also improved her consistency.
She has at least one 3-pointer in every game this season and has made four or more 3-pointers six times.
Dixon has scored in double figures in eight of the Hawkeyes' 11 games.
"Sometimes people just glue somebody on to her but when you do that it opens the floor up for everybody else and that is the ultimate sign of respect," Bluder said. "It's frustrating for her when people do that but at the same time you are helping the team in a different way."
Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCAA Leaders 3-pointers per game
1. Malina Hood, San Diego, 4.0
2. Meghan Braeuer, Texas State, 3.89
3. Alexa Hayward, Saint Francis, 3.89
4. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut, 3.88
5. Melissa Dixon, Iowa, 3.82
Melissa Dixon 3-pointers by year