The Hawkeye redemption tour is off to a perfect start.
Game No. 3 in Iowa’s quest for conference revenge is the first in a three-game stretch away from Iowa City.
It’s also perhaps the one the Hawkeyes want most.
Following back-to-back home wins against Purdue and Indiana last week, Iowa (17-11, 7-9 Big Ten) travels to Penn State on Wednesday in an attempt to complete a three-game sweep of teams it lost to earlier in the season.
“We are going to continue with three redemptions,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We are on that redemption tour and this will be our third one and we really want it.”
The first two wins on the redemption tour came at home, after Iowa dropped road games at Purdue and Indiana in the first meeting.
Wednesday’s meeting with Penn State (10-17, 5-11) is the opposite after the Nittany Lions handed the Hawkeyes an 82-69 loss at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the first meeting on Jan. 20.
Iowa never led in that game and trailed by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
“This game at Penn State is definitely a big one and just the talk around our team recently is we owe these teams that we are playing,” Iowa junior Ally Disterhoft said. “We felt like we owed Purdue, we felt like we owed Indiana and we are just looking to go to Penn State and play a complete game and get a little bit of that revenge that people are talking about.”
Consecutive wins over Indiana and Purdue has done more than just earn the Hawkeyes some revenge.
It has also helped Iowa build its NCAA Tournament resume while climbing the Big Ten standings.
Bluder has been adamant in her belief that a 9-9 Big Ten record would get the Hawkeyes into the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight season.
Following Wednesday’s trip to Penn State the Hawkeyes will close out Big Ten play on Saturday at home against last-place Illinois (9-18, 2-14).
Iowa is currently in a ninth-place tie with Rutgers in the Big Ten standings but is just a game behind Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan.
“We want to get to 9-9 as much as possible,” freshman Tania Davis said. “We think we are a lot better than 9-9 actually but things happen so we just want to finish out the season strong.”
Perhaps most impressive thing about the two redemption wins for the Hawkeyes last week is how they got them.
Iowa snapped a 55-all tie with an 8-0 run to end the game in a 63-55 win over Purdue on Thursday.
In Sunday’s 76-73 win over Indiana the Hawkeyes shook off a 9-0 Hoosier lead less than 90 seconds into the game and held off a late rally in the final quarter.
“I think that these games show growth just because we did have leads, the teams closed that lead and we were still able to finish, where in the past we haven’t been able to do that,” Disterhoft said. “I take that as a positive sign and a step forward.”
So far the Hawkeyes have handled the pressure of what Bluder said amounted to a must-win four game stretch.
“We made no bones about it we really want to win these four so we have put some pressure on them,” Bluder said. “It’s funny, I think kids handle pressure sometimes better than adults. The sun comes up tomorrow for them, they are really, very resilient. I think they probably handle it better than us old coaches."
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.