Iowa Women's Basketball

Defensive-minded Northwestern is making noise in Big Ten women's basketball

After blitzing league favorite Maryland, the Wildcats welcome Iowa on Sunday

Iowa's Kathleen Doyle (22) grabs a rebound under pressure from Illinois' Petra Holesinska (13) during their game Tuesday
Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (22) grabs a rebound under pressure from Illinois’ Petra Holesinska (13) during their game Tuesday. Doyle scored a career-high 33 points in Iowa’s 108-72 win, but points will be harder to come by Sunday at Northwestern. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Here’s all the evidence you need:

Northwestern 81, Maryland 58.

Everybody’s pick to roll through the Big Ten, Maryland went to Evanston, Ill., on Tuesday, and left with its most lopsided women’s basketball loss since joining the Big Ten.

“Maryland didn’t shoot well, and Northwestern’s defense is really, really good,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said.

How good?

Through 13 games, the Wildcats (12-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) are yielding just 51.2 points per game, a figure that ranks No. 6 nationally.

Opponents are shooting 34.8 percent from the field, 25.8 percent from 3-point range and committing 19.2 turnovers per game.

Yes, the Wildcats are showing more teeth than they have in recent years. They welcome Iowa (10-3, 1-1) for a Big Ten encounter at 1 p.m. Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Don’t bet on the Hawkeyes approaching the school-record 108 points they planted on Illinois on Tuesday.

“They play a matchup zone extensively,” Bluder said. “They’re clogging up the middle, and they’re challenging the perimeter.

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“They go 6-4 and 6-2 in the paint, and their guards are 5-10 and 5-11, so they have really good size all around. They do a good job keeping the ball out of the high post.”

Sunday’s game begins the Hawkeyes’ most challenging four-game stretch of the season. They host Maryland and Indiana, both ranked in the top 15, on Thursday and Jan. 12, then travel to Minnesota on Jan. 16.

Iowa has won six straight games in Evanston. Senior guard Kathleen Doyle is from LaGrange Park, another Chicago suburb

“I think it means a lot to Kathleen,” Bluder said. “She and (Northwestern’s) Lindsey Pulliam played together on the Pan-American team last summer.”

Pulliam leads the Wildcats in scoring, at 19.1 points per game.

Doyle, meanwhile, is coming off a career-best 33-point effort Tuesday. The Hawkeyes posted 34 assists against Illinois, and climbed to No. 5 nationally at 21.3 assists per game.

Sophomore post Monika Czinano continues to lead the nation in field-goal accuracy, at 72.3 percent.

Northwestern has won seven straight games since its only loss, 70-68 to DePaul.

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

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