Bethany Doolittle, Iowa ready for Minnesota rematch
In a season filled with memorable performances Iowa's first meeting with Minnesota earlier this month wasn't one the Hawkeyes care to remember.
For Bethany Doolittle, it's a game that is impossible to forget.
Minnesota center Amanda Zahui B. scored a career-high 39 points and grabbed a Big Ten-record 29 rebounds as the Gophers denied Doolittle a win in her final trip to her home state.
Fortunately for Doolittle, she didn't have to wait long for another shot at Zahui B. and the Gophers.
Less than two weeks after its first meeting No. 17 Iowa (22-6, 13-4 Big Ten) will get a shot at revenge against Minnesota (22-7, 11-6) when the two teams meet in the regular-season finale at 2 p.m. Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"Going back home for the last time and not coming away with a victory was hard, that game stuck in the back of my head," Doolittle said.
Doolittle and the Hawkeyes will have a lot more than revenge at stake on Sunday.
Iowa can clinch the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a win as well as secure the school record for home wins in a season.
The Hawkeyes are 15-0 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season heading into the senior-day clash with the Gophers.
A win could assure would aid Iowa's case as a top-four seed and host for the NCAA Tournament.
"It will be our four seniors' last time in Carver-Hawkeye Arena for sure, with certainty on Sunday," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "We are hoping that we get to come back here."
For all that to come to fruition Iowa will need to find a way to control the 6-foot-5 Zahui B., something the Hawkeyes didn't do in the first meeting.
Zahui B. was 16-for-31 from the field in the Feb. 17 win over Iowa and made all six of her free-throw attempts.
"We can't let her have layups," Bluder said. "We let her have too many uncontested layups. We tried to prevent the ball from getting inside and she just turned and scored layups."
Zahui B. has done damage against just about every team in the league this season.
She followed up her performance against Iowa by scoring 27 points and grabbing 27 rebounds in a 91-88 double-overtime win over Michigan.
Zahui B. is fourth in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.3 points per game and leads the conference in rebounding with 12.4 per game.
"We have to box her out," Bluder said. "I don't care how big or how strong she is we have to find a way to box her out."
Doolittle has been on her own impressive run.
The senior has scored at least 18 points in three consecutive games and had a game-high 22 points in Thursday's 78-74 win over Wisconsin.
Doolittle has scored in double figures in 11 straight games and is averaging 13.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season.
Doolittle is looking forward to one final matchup with Minnesota, as well as another shot at Zahui B.
"Obviously she poses quite a challenge but I think we will be coming out with a different mindset than our game at Minnesota," Doolittle said. "That wasn't the Iowa basketball that we can play and we are going to come out on Sunday and show them that we can play so much better than that and kind of limit her numbers."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
Minnesota (22-7, 11-6 Big Ten) at No. 17 Iowa (22-6, 13-4)
• Specifics — 2 p.m. Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
• Following the game — TV: BTN. Radio: KXIC (800 AM), WMT (AM 600), WHO (1040 AM) Hawkeye Radio Network. Live scoring: www.hawkeyesports.com.
• Preview — Iowa has plenty on the line on senior day as the Hawkeyes try to secure the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a school record for home wins. The Hawkeyes must find a way to slow Minnesota sophomore Amanda Zahui B., who had 39 points and 29 rebounds in a 93-80 Gopher win in Minneapolis on Feb. 17.