IOWA CITY — Let it go.
That was Lisa Bluder’s message to her team after it got blasted in Thursday’s showdown. And, really, what else was there to say?
“Sometimes after a night like that, you just have to move on,” the University of Iowa women’s basketball coach said Saturday, two days after the 17th-ranked Hawkeyes suffered a 93-59 beating at No. 10 Maryland.
“They already feel down enough about it, so it’s a message of ‘Come on, let’s bounce back.’”
Conditions are favorable. Extremely favorable.
Iowa (20-5, 11-3 Big Ten) hosts Wisconsin (11-14, 3-11) at 2 p.m. Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes have won 33 consecutive games at Carver, the second-longest active streak in the nation. And they own a 21-game streak of success against the Badgers.
That combination would indicate that Sunday should be a slam dunk. The first meeting of the season suggests otherwise, so maybe just a breakaway layup.
At Madison on Jan. 19, the Badgers got hot early and built a 50-35 halftime lead. They extended the margin to 17 early in the third quarter before Iowa raced back.
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The Hawkeyes led by the end of the third quarter, then pulled away at the very end to escape, 85-78.
“They shot lights-out from 3-point range to start, which is a little uncharacteristic for them,” Bluder said. “Then in the second half, we played with real purpose and Monika (Czinano) was a force.”
Burdened with early foul trouble, Czinano finished with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the Madison meeting. Makenzie Meyer led the Hawkeyes with 22 points, Kathleen Doyle tallied 21.
Czinano has moved back into the national lead in field-goal accuracy, at 70.1 percent. Doyle ranks sixth in assists per game (6.4).
“People ask me if I knew that Monika was going to be this good,” Bluder said. “I could look like a genius and say yes ... but no, I didn’t know.”
Thursday’s loss dropped Iowa to third place in the Big Ten, behind Maryland (21-4, 12-2) and Northwestern (21-3, 11-2). The Hawkeyes probably need to win all of their last four games to have a shot at a share of their first regular-season title since 2008, and hope for help.
The next three games are at Carver, against Wisconsin (Sunday), Penn State (next Saturday) and Minnesota (Feb. 27), then the Hawkeyes close at Rutgers on March 1.
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