IOWA CITY — Sleep comes hard for Lisa Bluder after a tough loss.
It also was elusive Thursday after the Iowa Hawkeyes pulled off their biggest win of the season.
“I worked until midnight,” Bluder said. “I would much rather toss and turn after a win, because those are happy memories.”
Its three-game losing streak snapped, No. 25 Iowa (16-5, 4-4) will try to avenge one of those defeats Sunday, when it hosts Nebraska (15-6, 6-2). Tipoff is 2 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Huskers have won six of their last seven games and have zoomed into third place in the Big Ten standings, a game behind frontrunning Maryland. Their surge includes a 74-65 win over Iowa at Lincoln on Jan. 16.
“They’re really on a good roll,” Bluder said.
It’s a far cry from last year, when the Huskers suffered though a 7-22 campaign.
“Their point guard, (Hannah) Whitish, she has improved a whole lot,” Bluder said. “She has become a very, very good basketball player, and her growth has been very good for them.”
Whitish, a sophomore, leads Nebraska at 13.5 points per game. She’s followed by Kate Cain, a 6-foot-5 freshman post, at 10.8 ppg.
Cain leads a strong inside presence for the Huskers that will challenge Iowa’s Megan Gustafson in the paint.
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“They have 15 fouls to give against Megan’s five,” Bluder said. “Cain certainly did a nice job against her last time. I think Megan will be more prepared for her this time.”
Gustafson suffered a hard head-to-head collision in the closing minutes of Iowa’s 103-89 win over Ohio State on Thursday. She suffered a bloody nose, but Bluder confirmed Friday that Gustafson had no symptoms of a concussion.
The junior ranks fourth nationally in points per game (23.9), eighth in rebounds per game (12.4), third in field goal percentage (.670) and second in double-doubles (19, in 21 games). She needs 19 points to become the 12th player in Iowa history to reach the 1,500-point mark for a career.
Bluder said that she feels like the Hawkeyes “are a different team” than they were at Lincoln, when they went without a field goal in seven attempts. Makenzie Meyer didn’t play in that game.
Meyer’s presence was obvious Thursday, when she hit 4 of 6 attempts from deep in an 18-point performance.
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