Iowa women looking for satisfying end to busy stretch
Two-thirds of the way through a whirlwind three-game, six-day stretch, Lisa Bluder is happy, yet hardly satisfied.
Bluder's happiness stems from back-to-back wins over Nebraska and Indiana.
The satisfaction for Bluder and No. 13 Iowa would come with a win over Minnesota (20-6, 9-5 Big Ten) Tuesday at Williams Arena to cap the wild six-day period.
"You know, we're 2-0 and I want to be 3-0," Bluder said. "That is all our focus is right now, is going to that Minnesota game."
Iowa (21-4, 12-2) kicked off its busiest stretch of the season with a road win at then-No. 22 Nebraska this past Thursday.
The Hawkeyes returned home briefly to knock off Indiana 81-64 on Sunday and left for Minnesota following practice on Monday.
Only a stretch of three games in five days early in the nonconference schedule can rival Iowa's current stretch in terms of short turnaround.
Those three games in November were all at home while the current stretch features hours of travel for road games against two teams in the top half of the Big Ten standings.
"We don't have a whole lot of these situations that we've done this before, like 'been there, done that,' " Bluder said. "That's not the way it's been with this type of scenario."
Minnesota finds itself in a similarly hectic situation with one extra day to rest.
The Golden Gophers defeated Wisconsin at home last Wednesday and won at Penn State 85-77 on Sunday night.
Minnesota has won three games in a row entering the 8 p.m. tipoff (Big Ten Network).
"They are in the same boat," Bluder said. "They are playing at Penn State (Sunday), so they have just one day to prepare for us, as well."
The teams don't have much time to prepare, but know each other well.
Iowa swept the regular-season series with the Gophers last season, including a 64-56 win at Williams Arena.
Tuesday's meeting is the first of two between the teams in a two-week span as Minnesota travels to Iowa City March 1 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Iowa rides a four-game winning streak into Tuesday's first meeting with the Gophers and was nearly flawless in a 17-point win over the Hoosiers.
Against Indiana the Hawkeyes shot 49.2 percent from the field, had four players in double figures and committed just 10 turnovers.
"Minnesota is a great team, and honestly I don't know a lot about them because I haven't looked that far ahead yet," Bluder said. "I feel like our seniors are providing such great leadership for us, and I think we played pretty mistake-free basketball (against Indiana), which is what you want to be doing at this time of year, is not making a whole lot of kind of silly mistakes, and I feel like we did that."
Minnesota lost leading scorer Rachel Banham to a season-ending knee injury in early December.
The Gophers won seven of their first eight games following Banham's injury, including a 5-1 start to Big Ten play.
Minnesota then lost four of its next five, but has won three in a row and is currently locked in a three-way tie for fourth in the Big Ten standings.
The Gophers are led by the tandem of Amanda Zahui B. and Shae Kelley.
The 6-foot-5 Zahui B. averages a double-double with 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and leads the league with 3.8 blocks per game.
Kelley, the reigning conference player of the week, is averaging 28 points per game over the last two games and 16.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game on the season.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
No. 13 Iowa (21-4, 12-2 Big Ten) at Minnesota (20-6, 9-5)
• Specifics — 8 p.m. Williams Arena, Minneapolis
• Following the game — TV: BTN. Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring: www.hawkeyesports.com.
• Preview — Both teams will be playing their third game in seven days Tuesday but only one team will finish that stretch 3-0. Minnesota won at home against Wisconsin on Wednesday and at Penn State on Sunday while Iowa won at Nebraska last Thursday before downing Indiana at home Sunday.