New-look Hawkeyes tasked with limiting Ohio State's Kelsey Mitchell
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Ally Disterhoft you saw against Michigan State looked a little different. At times this Big Ten season, the 6-foot matchup nightmare often settled for perimeter jump shots.
But in Iowa's 87-83 overtime win over the Spartans, Disterhoft played an aggressive brand of basketball she hadn’t exhibited since the Hawkeyes’ nonconference slate — and one Iowa could use over the home stretch, especially with Tania Davis gone for the year.
She notched a 25-point, 12-rebound double-double on 7 of 13 shooting. She drew five fouls in the paint and went 8 of 12 from the line — the most she’s made or attempted since she also made 8 of 12 Nov. 16 at North Dakota.
"I think I was definitely looking to do that a bit more," Disterhoft said of her assertive play. “The shots individually weren't falling as much in the first half but I knew that in the second half my team was going to need me to step up and start hitting those and continue being aggressive. I’ve always had the mentality: I’m always going to pass up a good shot for a great shot, so getting to the rim when I could, stepping up and hitting those shots when I could, but also keeping my teammates involved as best as I could."
On Sunday, Iowa will play the queen of assertive play in the Big Ten: Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell, who leads college basketball's No. 4 scoring offense.
The junior point guard paces the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the country with 23.2 points per game. But if you can somehow neutralize her, the 13th-ranked Buckeyes can struggle. They rely heavily on Mitchell, who has attempted the sixth-most shots (450) and the third-most 3-point shots (229) in the country.
Ohio State’s sole conference loss came at Michigan State, when the Spartans held Mitchell to 13 points on 4 of 18 shooting and won handily, 94-75.
"Obviously we have another great scorer in Kelsey Mitchell," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said after beating Michigan State. "And we are kind of used to that. Tori (Jankoska) tonight, we had (Michigan's) Katelynn Flaherty the week before. So it's kind of like at least we have these three in a row where you have to really identify that one person you've really got to glue to.
"Hopefully we can contain (Mitchell) a little bit. She's terrific."
Iowa has a good track record when it comes to stifling prolific scorers.
The Hawkeyes held Jankoska, the Big Ten’s No. 2 scorer, to six points through three quarters before she unloaded for 26 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Flaherty, the Big Ten’s No. 4 scorer, netted just 11 points on 5 of 17 shooting last Sunday against Iowa.
Earlier this month, Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner, the conference’s No. 3 scorer, got 16 points on 6 of 20 shooting in an 80-65 loss to the Hawkeyes.
That’s all encouraging if you’re an Iowa fan.
A win in Columbus would likely propel the Hawkeyes out of the NCAA Tournament bubble and into solid contention. Not only would it be a top-15 road win, but the Buckeyes have an RPI of 29, compared to Iowa's 43. Beating Ohio State means a jump to at least the mid-30s, which is normally a safe zone for at-large berths.
Iowa (15-9, 6-5, T-5th in Big Ten) at Ohio State (21-5, 11-1, 2nd)
When/where: 11 a.m., Value City Arena
TV: Big Ten Network
About the game: Ohio State leads the all-time series, 34-31, including the last three games. It beat Iowa, 98-81, last February as the No. 6 team in the country.