Iowa women trying to snap Hoosiers' home court streak
There is a theory in sports that streaks follow streaks.
For Iowa to follow last month's three-game losing skid with a three-game winning streak, the Hawkeyes will have to do something no other team has managed to do this season: win at Assembly Hall.
Indiana (13-9, 5-5) enters Thursday’s 6 p.m. meeting with Iowa as the Big Ten Conference's lone unbeaten team at home (9-0).
“We know we have a very difficult task going into Indiana. We are going to do something that nobody else has done all year: try to beat them at their place,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.
Iowa (15-7, 5-5) dropped three straight games for the first time since 2013 last month but has rebounded with back-to-back wins over Michigan and Northwestern.
A win Thursday would give Iowa its longest Big Ten winning streak of the season and push the Hawkeyes back above .500 in league play.
“To get that win against Michigan and then to turn around get the win at Northwestern, those were huge wins,” junior Ally Disterhoft said. “I think collectively we feel a lot better about where we are now than where we were a couple of weeks ago.”
Iowa is after its fourth Big Ten road win, with trips to Minnesota and Penn State remaining on the schedule.
For perspective, Iowa’s Sweet 16 team from a year ago that finished 14-4 in Big Ten play had five conference road wins.
Protecting one's home court is important, and no team has done that better than Indiana.
“That is impressive, to be undefeated at home,” Disterhoft said. “Obviously, they have been playing well there.”
The Hoosiers have been playing everyone pretty well of late, winning three of their past four games. The only loss game agaisnt No. 5 Maryland.
It’s no secret Indiana has been better in Bloomington. The Hoosiers average 81.4 points per game in their nine home wins, nearly 11 points better than their season average.
Indiana is 4-0 in home Big Ten games with a 10.5-point victory margin.
“They obviously shoot the ball very well on their home court, and we know that it’s going to be a big challenge,” Bluder said. “I think that right now is the best time that we can take our team in there.”
Iowa has won its past two games by an average of 15.5 points.
The Hawkeyes had four players score in double figures in a 85-69 win over Michigan. Five players hit that threshold in Sunday’s 79-64 win at Northwestern.
Perhaps more importantly, Iowa has improved on defense. After allowing an average of 84 points per game during its three-game losing streak, Iowa is holding its last two foes to 66.5 points per game.
“A lot of times, defense can fuel offense, but it goes the other way, too,” Disterhoft said. “When you have that confidence on offense, you can get things done defensively.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
WHO: Iowa (15-7, 5-5 Big Ten) at Indiana (13-9, 5-5)
WHEN/WHERE: 6 p.m., Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
STAT LEADERS: Iowa – Ally Disterhoft, 16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg; Chase Coley, 11 ppg, 5.5 rpg. Indiana – Tyra Buss, 18.5 ppg, 4.3 apg; Amanda Cahill 14.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg.
WHAT TO WATCH: Everything for Indiana runs through sophomore guard Tyra Buss. The 5-foot-8 Buss leads the Hoosiers in scoring (18.5 ppg) and assists (4.3) and is the best in the Big Ten at getting to the free throw line. She leads the Big Ten in both free throws made (138) and attempted (178), shooting 43 more free throws than anyone in the conference. Thanks largely to Buss, the Hoosiers have made more free throws this season (352) than their opponents have attempted (289).