IOWA CITY — This business trip contained some pleasure, too.
The Iowa Hawkeyes left a day early for their women’s basketball road trip to the East Coast. They reached New York City on Sunday, watched the Broadway musical “Aladdin” at the New Amsterdam Theatre, visited Times Square and spent the night downtown.
“It was awesome,” Coach Lisa Bluder said. “The team had a ball. It’s always special when you can share these kinds of things, and take them places they’ve never been before.”
The focus shifted back to basketball Monday, and the Hawkeyes (11-7 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) face revitalized Rutgers (6-13, 3-3) at 6 p.m. (Iowa time) Tuesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
The Scarlet Knights limped into the conference season with an unsightly 3-10 record (including a loss to Elon), but have gotten their act together since league play begin. They have won their first three Big Ten home games.
“They’re much, much better,” Bluder said. “They’re like a whole different team. They’ve really turned things around once the Big Ten season started.”
Still, this is an offensively challenged outfit. Rutgers is averaging 51.2 points per game, which ranks 336th of the 345 Division-I teams.
The coach who put Iowa on the women’s basketball map in a 12-year run that included a Final Four trip in 1993, C. Vivian Stringer is 2-3 against the Hawkeyes, who have beaten Rutgers two straight times since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten.
Iowa also defeated the Scarlet Knights in the first round of the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Now in her 46th year, Stringer owns a career record of 977-379.
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The Hawkeyes are coming off a 98-82 loss to No. 3 Maryland on Saturday, a game that they led at halftime.
Tania Davis scored 25 points.
“Our point guard has her mojo back,” Bluder said. “She needed a breakout game, and not she’s just got to keep it rolling.”
Ally Disterhoft needs four points to catch Jaime Printy for the No. 3 spot on Iowa’s all-time scoring chart. Disterhoft has 1,837 points.
Megan Gustafson ranks sixth in the nation in field-goal accuracy (66.3 percent) and 30th in rebounds (10.1 per game).
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