IOWA CITY — It was a painful loss. Very avoidable.
Up by eight points with six minutes to go, the Iowa Hawkeyes let it slip away in a 62-57 women’s basketball loss to Purdue on Jan. 10.
“It still makes the hair stand up on my neck,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “We were winning for a lot of the game. I’d like to get that one back.”
That opportunity presents itself Sunday, when the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes (15-4 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) welcome the Boilermakers (15-6, 6-2) to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Tipoff is 2 p.m.
The loss at West Lafayette was the Hawkeyes’ most recent setback. They have won four straight games since, including a 72-66 victory Wednesday over Rutgers that pulled the Hawkeyes within one game of the Big Ten lead. Purdue and Maryland join the Hawkeyes in a second-place tie.
“We want to keep it rolling,” Bluder said. “We feel really good about ourselves right now, and we want to keep this feeling as long as we can.”
Iowa will be meeting a stingy defense for the second straight game. The Hawkeyes’ 72 points Wednesday was about 18 more than Rutgers’ defensive average.
Purdue allows 59.9 points per game.
“Like Rutgers, they really like holding people down, but they do it in a different manner,” Bluder said. “Rutgers plays almost all (man-to-man). Purdue spends a lot of time in a zone.”
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Iowa hopes to attack that zone better than the last time out, when the Hawkeyes were 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
“We didn’t shoot well,” Bluder said. “We didn’t make them pay from outside, and we quit looking inside.
“We learned some valuable lessons. We’ll be more prepared (Sunday).”
Purdue has a strong trio in Karissa McLaughlin (15.5 points per game), Dominique Oden (15.4) and Ae’Rianna Harris (13.1). And, Bluder said, “(Tamara) Farquhar has really stepped up her game.”
For Iowa, this is the final season of Megan Mania. The Hawkeyes’ all-time career leader in points and rebounds, senior post Megan Gustafson is the national leader in scoring (26.5 points per game), double-doubles (18) and field-goal percentage (.713) and ranks third in rebounds (12.9 per game).
Much more quietly, Makenzie Meyer has strung together 24 free throws this season without a miss. She made four in the closing moments to clinch the win against Rutgers.
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