CEDAR FALLS — After a disappointing 54-48 loss to IUPUI in its regular-season opener at home, Northern Iowa women’s basketball is looking for offense as in-state rival Iowa State comes to the McLeod Center Tuesday night.
“We played like a young, inexperienced team on the offensive end,” UNI head coach Tanya Warren said. “We really battled on the defensive end, and rebounding. You’ve got to give IUPUI credit, I thought their pressure literally took us out of our game and really forced us to play on our heels. We had a lot of empty possessions. A lot of costly turnovers.”
UNI graduated three off its 2016-17 NCAA Tournament team, most notably Madison Weekly, who finished her career as the program’s second-leading scorer. Weekly’s graduation has forced Iowa City West alum Mikaela Morgan into a more offensive role for the Panthers. In the loss to IUPUI, Morgan struggled in her new role, making two of her eight attempts and scoring only six points. However, UNI’s offensive struggles in the opener extended well beyond Morgan as it turned the ball over 20 times against the Jaguars.
“There’s going to be growth moments like we’re going through right now and the most important thing is we have to come back (Tuesday) and execute some things a lot better,” Warren said. “Especially on the offensive end.”
Iowa State (1-0), also coming off of an NCAA Tournament season in 2016-17, won a tightly contested game in its opener, 81-76 last Friday against South Dakota. The Cyclones will be without Emily Durr against the Panthers, a senior guard who scored 14 points in the win over South Dakota and scored a career-best 8.6 points per game a season ago.
“Iowa State is very good. They’re big. They shoot the 3 extremely well. I don’t think there’s any question that’s what they want to do. That’s who they are,” Warren said. “So we’re going to have to make sure we’re scouting report ready, defensively. Understand where we can help, who we can help off of. We’re going to have to be gritty on the defensive end (and) chase them off the 3-point line, rebound, and then offensively we’re going to have to execute. We have to be shot ready when the opportunity presents itself and we have to take care of the basketball. It’s been a long time since we’ve had 20 turnovers, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been this young.”