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Hawkeye women crack top 25 on strong Cancun play

[ 0 ] December 3, 2013 |

The saying is the best part about going away is coming home.

The Iowa women’s basketball team had plenty of fun getting away but home looks pretty good to the Hawkeyes right now.

Iowa (8-1) wrapped up a five-game stretch away from home with three wins in Cancun last week to finish its two-week road stretch 4-1.

The Hawkeyes will return to Carver-Hawkeye arena for the first time since Nov. 17 on Thursday when they host No. 22 Syracuse in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

“Cancun was obviously really fun, it was great bonding and we picked up some big wins down there, but I think we are all excited to be back on our home court playing in front of our great fans,” freshman Ally Disterhoft said. “We are just eager to get out there and play another top-25 team.”

The Hawkeyes’ road swing began with a 90-87 loss to No. 11 Colorado on Nov. 20.

Iowa responded from the loss to the Buffaloes by winning its final four games of the road stretch, highlighted by three wins in three days in Cancun.

The 3-0 trip to Cancun included wins over USC from the Pac-12 and Boston College of the ACC.

“We had three games in three days, and I thought our players’ focus was very, very good,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought they prepared for each game like they were preparing for the Big Ten championship, and that’s what I like to see out of this team is their focus, their intensity for each opponent.”

The 4-1 road stretch also helped vault the Hawkeyes into the national rankings.

Iowa is 25th in The Associated Press Top 25 poll released this week.

“It was a little tough to leave (Cancun), but we are just ready to play at home,” junior Samantha Logic said. “We love playing at Carver and having a ranked team here, it’s a huge advantage.”

Along with the three wins, the trip to Cancun provided a bonus for the Hawkeyes in the return of junior Melissa Dixon’s shooting touch.

A career 38 percent three-point shooter who led the Big Ten in three-point percentage during conference games last season, Dixon shot just 15 percent (7-46) from beyond the arc in the Hawkeyes’ first six games.

Dixon’s shooting returned in Cancun as she more than doubled her season total for three-pointers by hitting 15 in three games, including a school-record tying seven in a win over UNC-Wilmington.

“It made me feel so good,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said of Dixon’s shooting. “It’s not that I was worried about Melissa. I just felt bad for Melissa because I know how much pressure she was starting to put on herself and I didn’t want her to do that because I think that’s the worst thing you can do as a shooter is to start to question or start to think about it too much.”

Dixon had three treys against USC and five against Boston College, finishing 15-of-34 (44 percent) on three-point attempts in Cancun.

She had a career-high 32-points in the UNC-Wilmington win going 11-of-18 from the field.

“It was just a matter of time, and I think getting her back in the flow is really great for her,” Logic said of Dixon. “Obviously, it’s great for us but just for her it’s great. She knows we believe in her but it’s great to see her hard work pay off. She kept getting in the gym and we started seeing the results.”

Reach Ryan Murken at 339-7369 or rmurken@press-citizen.com.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

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