The bloom is off the rose for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
Iowa (16-6 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) started the week ranked in the Top 25 and on a three-game winning streak but then lost at Illinois 74-62 on Thursday.
Instead of being one game back of Big Ten-leading Purdue and Penn State, Iowa now is in a pack of five teams tied for third place.
If the Hawkeyes are going to seperate themselves from the Big Ten pack, a win over Northwestern (10-11, 2-6) at 1 p.m. today is a must.
The Wildcats are playing their third game of the week, having beaten Indiana on Monday 53-39 and lost to Michigan State on Thursday 67-62.
But despite being sub-.500 on the season and near the basement of the Big Ten, Northwestern started the season 6-0 and has played the top teams in the Big Ten close — losing by just four points at Penn State and at Purdue.
Northwestern also won at Illinois 62-58 on Jan. 20, the place where Iowa just left in defeat.
“They played with more confidence; more aggressive,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said on Thursday of the Illini.
Iowa had 27 turnovers on Thursday that led to 30 points for Illinois. The Illini were also 13-of-19 at the line and Iowa was just 1-of-2.
“Every team in the Big Ten is going to come ready to play,” Iowa senior Jaime Prnty said. “If we want to go where we want to go, we’ve got to beat these teams, too.”
“We know that these are great teams, too, and they cannot be overlooked,” Iowa senior Morgan Johnson said.
Iowa has dominated Northwestern over the last decade, winning 19 of the last 20 games in the series.
Northwestern is led by senior forwrd Kendall Hackney with 14.8 points per game. Freshman forward Maggie Lyon averges 12.6 points per game.
Six-foot-5 senior post Dannielle Diamant (12.1 points per game) has 29 blocked shots and 6-2 freshman forward Lauren Douglas (9.7 ppg) has 37 blocked shots. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten in blocks (6.0 per game).
Northwestern features a tall lineup, with only one starter under 6-foot. They lead the Big Ten in defensive rebounds.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball