Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa relishes 'chance to fix' last year's losses to Nebraska

Among them was a home debacle in which Iowa trailed 56-26 at halftime

Hannah Stewart (21) takes a shot under pressure from Nebraska's Nicea Eliely (5) and Rachel Blackburn (43) during the Huskers' 92-74 win last sseason at Iowa City. The teams play again Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Hannah Stewart (21) takes a shot under pressure from Nebraska's Nicea Eliely (5) and Rachel Blackburn (43) during the Huskers' 92-74 win last sseason at Iowa City. The teams play again Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — It was one of the low points in recent Iowa women’s basketball history.

“Very embarrassing,” Makenzie Meyer recalled.

It came last season, just three days after Iowa upset eventual Big Ten champion Ohio State. Nearly 9,000 folks came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, only to watch the Hawkeyes lay a massive egg.

Nebraska led by 30 points at halftime and coasted to a 92-74 win, concluding a season sweep of the Hawkeyes.

“We had a really good crowd, and we fell apart,” Megan Gustafson said.

That’s more than Kathleen Doyle chooses to remember.

“I don’t want to bring it back in my mind,” she said. “It wasn’t fun at all, and I’ve erased it. I look forward to the chance to fixing it.”

The opportunity for reparation comes Thursday, when the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes (9-3 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) host Nebraska (7-6, 2-0). Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Carver.

“We should be very focused,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “They swept us last year and they’re 2-0 in the Big Ten.”

Plus, the Hawkeyes are coming off a bad second-half performance in their last game, an 84-70 loss at Michigan State.

Gustafson became Iowa’s all-time leading scorer — male or female — Sunday, upping her career total to 2,124 points. She scored 30 at East Lansing.

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“A lot of people have been focusing on that a lot, there have been a lot of questions about it, and that’s fine,” she said. “But I’m focused on the team right now, and the goal is to win.”

A consensus All-American last season, Gustafson is in the process of pushing the career scoring and rebounding records into hard-to-reach territory. Bluder was asked Wednesday about the possibility of No. 10 being retired upon Gustafson’s departure.

“It’s a very valid question,” she said. “I thought about it the other day and pushed it to the back of my mind. It’s something that needs to be addressed at the end of the year.”

Nebraska earned its first road win (in six tries) Monday, defeating Ohio State. The Huskers are unique in that they have eight players averaging at least 8.2 points per game, nobody more than 10.8.

“They’ll be tough to defend,” Meyer said. “They always seem to have a kid or two go off for 20 points, and it’s always somebody different.”

Meanwhile, the rotation has tightened for the Hawkeyes, even after Doyle returned from a broken hand.

Bluder has used a seven-player rotation in both of the last two games.

“It’s just so hard to take Megan off the floor, for one thing,” said Bluder, who said freshmen Monika Czinano and Tomi Taiwo are most likely to break through and grab some minutes.

“It’s still evolving. I hate to take chances in games; that comes in practice.”

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

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