Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa has another reunion with C. Vivian Stringer, and this one's important

Hawkeyes face a first-place Rutgers team that has won 10 straight

Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer reacts after Aliyah Jeune (11) was charged with a technical foul during their game at Iowa in 2017. Stringer, who coached 12 seasons at Iowa and owns more than 1,000 career wins, returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena again Wednesday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer reacts after Aliyah Jeune (11) was charged with a technical foul during their game at Iowa in 2017. Stringer, who coached 12 seasons at Iowa and owns more than 1,000 career wins, returns to Carver-Hawkeye Arena again Wednesday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Honor her, then defeat her.

That would be the perfect scenario for the 15th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes when C. Vivian Stringer brings No. 18 Rutgers to town for a Big Ten women’s basketball showdown Wednesday.

“We know what Vivian started here,” Iowa senior Hannah Stewart said. “That gives us a little extra oomph in beating her.”

Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Stringer reached the 1,000-victory plateau earlier this season, and currently stands at 1,012-405 in 48 seasons. Twelve of those were at Iowa, where she racked up a 269-84 mark that included a trip to the Final Four in 1993. She left for New Jersey in 1995.

“(Iowa is) a special place,” Stringer said last year, in an interview for a story chronicling the 1993 team. “I felt loved and taken care of. People are warm, caring and extremely bright.”

Stringer will be honored pregame for that milestone, then it’s down to business.

Rutgers (15-3 overall, 7-0 Big Ten) holds a two-game lead in the league race over the Hawkeyes (14-4, 5-2), as well as Maryland and Purdue. The Scarlet Knights have won 10 consecutive games.

“This is a much-improved team we’re talking about,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “They have six transfers — a couple grad transfers — and they’re shooting the ball a whole lot better than they have in the past.”

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Still, the Scarlet Knights are driven by defense. They are yielding 53.9 points per game (ninth in the nation) and allowing opponents to shoot 33.8 percent from the field (also No. 9).

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“They’re very, very physical,” senior point guard Tania Davis said. “They want to be up on you. We’re prepared for a dogfight.”

“The amount of ball pressure they apply, ball pressure and denial ... it’s different that anybody else,” Bluder said.

The Hawkeyes have won three straight, including two in a row, all by double digits.

Megan Gustafson leads the nation in scoring (26.2 points per game) and field-goal percentage (.707) and ranks No. 2 in rebounds (13.0 per game). She added a new trick Sunday at Illinois, hitting the first 3-pointer of her career at the end of the first quarter.

Alexis Sevillian lost possession of the ball, Gustafson picked it up and hoisted it from well beyond the arc.

“It felt pretty good off my hand,” she said. “The celebration afterward was pretty awesome.”

Davis said, “That was a cool moment. She shot it, and I watched it and thought, ‘Hey, that has a chance to go in.’

“Give her an A-plus for form. Great technique.”

Since Rutgers joined the Big Ten, Iowa has beaten the Scarlet Knights in all five meetings. The Hawkeyes also claimed a victory in a first-round NCAA Tournament game in 2010.

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

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