Iowa women's basketball: Hawkeyes 'focusing on ourselves'

Top 25 a possibility if Iowa handles Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Iowa’s Hannah Stewart (21) pulls down a rebound between Iowa State’s Bridget Carleton (21), Meredith Burkhall (32) and Rae Johnson (4) during the fourth quarter of the Hawkeyes’ 61-55 win Wednesday. The emergence of Stewart has helped key the Hawkeyes to a 9-1 start. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Hannah Stewart (21) pulls down a rebound between Iowa State’s Bridget Carleton (21), Meredith Burkhall (32) and Rae Johnson (4) during the fourth quarter of the Hawkeyes’ 61-55 win Wednesday. The emergence of Stewart has helped key the Hawkeyes to a 9-1 start. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The trivia answer: Tougaloo College and Philander Smith.

The trivia question: Name the two teams Arkansas-Pine Bluff has defeated in women’s basketball this season.

Yes, the Iowa Hawkeyes have a scouting report on Pine Bluff (2-5), which comes to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a 2 p.m. encounter Saturday. But Lisa Bluder isn’t going to try to fool her team that this is the second coming of UConn.

“I’m not going to pull the wool over their eyes,” Bluder said. “This is a team with two wins over Division II teams. We hope to get better, and still dominate.”

Iowa (9-1) is coming off Wednesday’s win at Iowa State, its first in Ames in 28 years. Preparation for finals has begun. And Saturday’s opponent is from the SWAC and totes an RPI of 298.

So forgive the Hawkeyes if they aren’t 100-percent dialed in.

“We’re trying to focus on ourselves,” Makenzie Meyer said. “We have a couple goals set, dealing with offensive rebounds and turnovers. Hopefully we can focus on ourselves and get better.”

If the Hawkeyes take care of business Saturday, they are likely to move into the top 25 for the first time since midway through the 2015-16 season.

How have they gotten here?

• They have gotten some health breaks. Tania Davis recovered from her torn ACL faster than expected, and Kathleen Doyle missed only two games with a sprained ankle.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

• Redshirt freshman Alexis Sevillian has made an immediate impact. She is second on the team in scoring, at 11.7 points per game.

• Megan Gustafson (21.7 points, 12.8 rebounds per game), of course, has blossomed into an elite player at the national level.

• The most pleasant surprise, according to Bluder, has been the progress of Hannah Stewart, who has developed into a worthy complementary post. The junior is averaging 8.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

“She’s playing really well,” Bluder said. “She had 12 rebounds (against Iowa State), but what I really like is the extra effort she gives, giving for loose balls.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

CONTINUE READING

MORE College Womens Basketball ARTICLES TO READ NEXT ...

It has repeatedly occurred to me this month that Big Ten men's basketball teams have a lot of out-of-state players. I guess it finally got me thinking Tuesday when Wisconsin played at Iowa. The Badgers typically have had strong in ...

After three straight losses overall and five straight Big Ten losses to begin conference play, the Iowa men's basketball team broke through for its first victory at Illinois - thanks to a second half in which the Hawkeyes found a ...

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.

Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.