Iowa’s bounce-back ability will be tested in Thursday night’s 7 p.m. women’s basketball game against 10th-ranked Michigan State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
On Monday, they led No. 24 Ohio State 33-32 at halftime, only to have their defense torched for 49 points in the second half and lose 81-67.
Now, Iowa faces the Big Ten leader in Michigan State (18-2, 6-1), which is off to the best start in the team’s history.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said her team can’t afford to replaying the second half of Monday’s loss.
“It would have been so nice to get that one,” Bluder said. “It would have helped us advance in the standings, but now we can’t dwell on that one hand have it hurt against Michigan State. We have to make sure we take care of business at home.”
The game is a rematch from Jan. 13, when Michigan State tipped Iowa 63-60 on Kalisha Keane’s 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left. Keane led the Spartans with 16 points.
“I think she is really a key for them,” Bluder said. “We have to make sure she doesn’t get loose, because she’s a really good scorer. But they’re a really balanced scoring team.”
After being off for eight days, this will be part of a busy week for Iowa, which also plays at Illinois on Sunday. At 3-4, the Hawkeyes are in seventh place in the Big Ten, which is ranked as the nation’s top conference by collegerpi.com.
Iowa probably needs a top six finish to assure itself of a NCAA Tournament berth. With Northwestern and Michigan dramatically improved, there don’t figure to be any sure conference wins for any team.
“Everybody in the conference is so good and we reduced to 16 games (from 18) this year,” Bluder said. “There’s nobody weak in the conference where you can say, ‘We’re going to get an automatic W.’” It’s not there any more.”
WHO: Michigan State (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) at Iowa (15-5, 3-4 Big Ten)
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
RADIO: WHO (1040 AM), WMT (600 AM) KXIC (800 AM)
TICKETS: $9 adults, $5 youths; $20 for family of four packs.
STATISTICAL LEADERS: For Michigan State — Kalisha Keane, 15.9 ppg; Lykendra Johnson, 11.0 ppg and 8.6 rpg; Brittney Thomas, 8.1 ppg and 2.9 apg; for Iowa — Kachine Alexander, 13.5 ppg and 9.4 rpg; Kamille Wahlin, 12.2 ppg andf 3.5 apg; Jaime Printy, 16 ppg.
ABOUT THE SPARTANS: Michigan State is ranked 10th nationally, its only losses being to Baylor and Ohio State. The Spartans
ABOUT THE HAWKEYES: This is the second ranked opponent in four days for Iowa, which lost 81-67 at No. 24 Ohio State on Monday.
WHAT TO WATCH: One key will be the board battle between the Johnsons — Michigan State’s Lykendra and Iowa’s Morgan. Lykendra Johnson is averaging 12 rebounds per game in Big Ten play.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball