Iowa Women's Basketball

Roller coaster climbing again for Iowa women's basketball

Hawkeyes host Minnesota, seeking back-to-back wins for first time since December

Iowa’s Chase Coley (4) battles for a rebound againsy Nebraska’s Jasmine Cincore (34) and Kate Cain (31) last Sunday. Coley hit the go-ahead basket in the Hawkeyes’ overtime win Thursday against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes host Minnesota at 2 p.m. Sunday. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Chase Coley (4) battles for a rebound againsy Nebraska’s Jasmine Cincore (34) and Kate Cain (31) last Sunday. Coley hit the go-ahead basket in the Hawkeyes’ overtime win Thursday against Michigan State. The Hawkeyes host Minnesota at 2 p.m. Sunday. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — They were coming off their worst performance of the season.

They were inaccurate from long distance (again). They were spotty from the free-throw line. They committed 24 turnovers.

Yet, somehow, the Iowa Hawkeyes pulled off a critical women’s basketball road win against Michigan State on Thursday.

“It’s good that we still found a way to win, even when we weren’t at our best,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.

Now, the Hawkeyes aim to do something they haven’t done in more than a month — win consecutive games.

Iowa (17-6 overall, 5-5 Big Ten) faces Minnesota (17-5, 6-3) at 2 p.m. Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Gophers claimed a 77-72 victory over the Hawkeyes on Jan. 21 in Minneapolis. They are riding a three-game winning streak and rank sixth nationally in scoring offense at 84.5 points per game.

“They’re a handful,” Bluder said. “They’re an extremely explosive team with great 3-point shooters. And they have size inside.”

Iowa’s last back-to-back victories came in late December, against Wisconsin and Michigan.

Since then, it has been a roller coaster. The last 10 days has featured:

• A dizzying high — a 103-89 win over preseason Big Ten favorite Ohio State.

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• A complete and dispiriting thud — a 92-74 shellacking at Carver by Nebraska, in which the Huskers led by as many as 36 points.

• Then came Thursday, in which the Hawkeyes rallied from five points down late in regulation and outlasted Michigan State, 71-68, in overtime.

Chase Coley had only five points but hit the go-ahead basket from the left baseline with 6 seconds left in overtime.

It may have been the Hawkeyes’ biggest shot of the season.

“I told her that she’ll remember if for the rest of her life,” Bluder said.

Megan Gustafson had another huge night — 36 points and 17 rebounds. On Friday, she was named one of 10 finalists for the Lisa Leslie Award, which goes to the nation’s best center.

“I’ve run out of words to describe her,” Bluder said. “She’s a truly special player, and we’re so fortunate to have her.”

Cedar Rapids native Amanda Ollinger played the entire overtime Thursday in place of Alexis Sevillian.

“Michigan State was doing a really good job of posting up our guards, and obviously, Amanda’s harder to post up,” Bluder said. “She wasn’t forcing anything. She really did a nice job, and that’s why we stuck with her.”

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

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