Tania Davis getting comfortable for Hawkeyes

Ryan Murken
Iowa's Tania Davis drives to the hoop during the Hawkeyes' game against Western Illinois at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Tania Davis arrived in Iowa City last fall a sought-after prospect, one of the highest-ranked recruits in Iowa program history.

Over the past few weeks, Iowa fans have gotten a full look at why the 5-foot-4 point guard was such a widely-coveted recruit coming out of high school.

By her own admission, it took Davis some time to get comfortable in her new role, with her new team and her new coaches.

Davis has looked plenty comfortable the past four games, averaging 14.3 points and 5.8 assists per contest.

The freshman point guard posted a career-high 18 points in a win over Michigan on Thursday and has scored double figures in three of her last four games.

She will try to keep that streak going when Iowa (14-7, 4-5 Big Ten) faces Northwestern (13-8, 2-7) Sunday at 2 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill.

“I definitely feel comfortable,” Davis said. “I’m getting to know the plays a lot better, I’m getting to know the system a lot better and becoming more of an offensive threat and a defensive threat.”

There was never any questioning of Davis' skill.

Named Michigan’s Miss Basketball in 2015, she was ranked the 36th-best recruit in the country as a senior at Grand Blanc's Goodrich High School.

For Davis it was about finding her role.

Notebook: Hawkeyes get back to 'Iowa basketball'

She scored double figures three times in the first 10 games of the season while coming off the bench.

Davis made two starts in nonconference play before providing a spark off the bench in the Hawkeyes' first seven Big Ten games.

Inserted back into the starting lineup at Purdue, Davis has taken her game up a notch in all aspects.

She has played career-high minutes in each of the last two games, playing 35 minutes in Thursday’s win over Michigan.

Davis is shooting 58 percent from the floor and averaging 16 points per game since rejoining the starting lineup.

Perhaps most important: She has 12 assists and just one turnover in those two games.

“I’m becoming much more of a leader and a vocal leader at that,” Davis said. “I’m definitely more comfortable and I’m so glad to be with a great group of coaches and teammates.”

Davis has 23 assists with just six turnovers over her last four games but will get a stiff test in that department on Sunday against Northwestern and Ashley Deary, the nation's steals leader.

The 5-foot-4 Deary averages an NCAA-best 4.4 steals per game for a Northwestern team that thrives on defensive pressure.

Northwestern won 10 straight games to open the season but has lost six of its last seven, including four straight.

The Wildcats have four players averaging double figures and average 77.1 points per game, but they have allowed more than 80 points five times in the last seven games and are allowing 80.4 points per game in Big Ten play.

“They’re a team that can score a lot of points, just like Michigan,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “So our defense is going to have to come through for us just like it did {Thursday}.”

Northwestern is led by 6-foot-1 junior Nia Coffey.

Coffey is the only Big Ten player averaging a double-double this season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10.2 rebounds per game.

“Nia Coffey is probably one of the most athletic players in the conference,” Bluder said. “She’s a tough matchup because she plays a power forward. She can do great things posting up, but she can also come out and face, so she's just a tough matchup.”

Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or rmurken@press-citizen.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.

About the game

Iowa (14-7, 4-5) at Northwestern (13-8, 2-7)

When: Sunday, 2 p.m. 

Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill.

Stat leaders: Iowa – Ally Disterhoft 16.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg; Chase Coley 10.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg. Northwestern – Nia Coffey 20 ppg, 10.2 rpg; Maggie Lyon 16 ppg, 5.6 rpg.    

What to watch: There should be plenty of offense on Sunday in a meeting of teams that like to get up and down the court. Iowa has won three straight in the series and has scored at least 80 points in each of its last three meetings with the Wildcats, including a 102-99 win in Evanston last season. Northwestern has shown flashes of being a dangerous team this season, handing No. 7 Ohio State it’s only Big Ten defeat and downing Nebraska by 23.