IOWA CITY — Close doesn’t cut it.
“All of our losses have been close,” Kate Martin said. “We’re tired of being close.”
Four points. Ten points. Two in overtime. Seven points. Five.
Then, the “blowout” Sunday, a 13-point defeat to Indiana that was tied with eight minutes to go.
Yeah, the Iowa women’s basketball team is close.
“I don’t like losing at all,” Caitlin Clark said. “I think we can win every single game, no matter who the opponent is. They can be the best team in the country, and I’d still think we could win. That’s just how I am.”
Thursday’s opponent isn’t the best team in the country. But it will be a challenge.
The Hawkeyes (10-6, 6-6 Big Ten) will try to halt a skid — five losses in the last seven games — when they play at Nebraska (9-7, 7-6).
Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb. It will be televised on BTN.
The game originally was scheduled for Wednesday, but was moved back a day by the Big Ten.
“I think it’s actually a good thing for both teams,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “Nebraska was on the road twice last week, and it’s a big game both of us.”
It’s pivotal because both teams have settled into a five-team pack, (along with Michigan State, Penn State and Rutgers) in the middle of the Big Ten race.
The game also carries extra weight because it’s the only one of the week. The Hawkeyes’ next contest is Feb. 18, at home against Penn State.
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“We’ve been in every game,” Bluder said. “We can give up and say, ‘Oh well,’ or we can stay optimistic and keep pounding.
“It’s not always on our timeline as to when things are going to turn around. But I believe in our team, and I believe in every individual on our team.”
One of Bluder’s perennial prides has been the culture of her program, the chemistry of her team. She was asked Wednesday where the Hawkeyes’ chemistry stands.
“I think it’s good off the court,” she said. “In a shorter season, it’s harder to create chemistry on the court, especially with so many new parts.”
Nebraska is 7-1 at home, notching victories over Northwestern and Ohio State, among others.
The Huskers shine defensively, allowing opponents to shoot only 36 percent. Six-foot-5 Kate Cain averages 3.4 blocks per game.
“She’s really been a good player all four years for them,” Iowa’s Monika Czinano said. “But it’s not going to be a one-on-one battle. Everybody’s got to contribute to stop every person on that team.”
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