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With a wave of momentum, No. 10 Hawkeyes get set for up-and-down Nebraska
Iowa has won 11 of its last 12, but the shelf life of celebration after the Ohio State triumph was brief
IOWA CITY — A college basketball season resembles a conveyor belt.
Play a game. Win it or lose it. Celebrate it or mourn it. Let it go and move on. Play another game.
Before you know it, preseason media day is a distant memory and Selection Sunday is upon you.
“You can’t get too high or low,” Iowa’s Gabbie Marshall said Wednesday, two days after the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes earned one of their biggest regular-season victories in program history, 83-72 over No. 2 Ohio State.
“I wish we could have celebrated longer.”
“We celebrated in the locker room for about five minutes,” Coach Lisa Bluder said. “We got on the plane, the kids fell asleep and we started working on Nebraska.”
Stop No. 21 on the 2022-23 conveyor belt is a noon matchup Saturday, when Nebraska (12-8 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) — somewhat disappointing, yet quite dangerous — visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena for an encounter with the first-place Hawkeyes (16-4, 8-1).
“When they’re on, they’re ON,” senior Kate Martin said of the Huskers. “They’re lethal from the 3-point line.”
The arc is Nebraska’s barometer. This is a team that went to Maryland on Dec. 4, hit 12 of 25 from long range and won, 90-67.
“They’re scary,” Bluder said. “When they win, the 3s are falling down. When they’re not, the 3 isn’t falling as well. Our 3 defense has to be really important.”
Iowa has rattled off 11 wins in the last 12 games.
The last one, at Columbus, was a masterpiece. The Hawkeyes prevailed without McKenna Warnock (rib-cage injury) and with Monika Czinano in foul trouble.
In the last two games, Czinano has made 22 of 24 field-goal attempts. The two time national leader in field-goal accuracy, Czinano is third this season at 66.2 percent.
“Monika has been incredible, absolutely amazing,” Bluder said. “We want to keep her out of foul trouble, but when she’s been in, she’s been amazing. Maybe the less (playing) time has helped her a little bit.”
Warnock has not practiced since her injury, suffered in the Hawkeyes’ overtime win at Michigan State on Jan. 18.
“I hope we have her Saturday, but I think she’s still day-to-day,” Bluder said.
Another big crowd is expected Saturday at Carver, where the Hawkeyes have averaged 9,870 fans per game.
“It’s really fun to play in front of loud crowds,” Martin said. “We’re good at tuning out (the noise).”
Caitlin Clark posted her eighth career triple-double (28 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists) against Ohio State. Home or away, the dynamic junior has gotten rock-star treatment from fans.
“Kids from opposing teams have Caitlin Clark posters. She’s an exciting player. It’s pretty neat when you have a player who understands it and embraces it,” Bluder said.
“Megan Gustafson (2019 national player of the year) was adored by an older generation. With Caitlin, these are the kids.”