IOWA CITY — It’s right there for them now.
The Iowa Hawkeyes own a share of the Big Ten women’s basketball lead. The No. 1 seed for the Big Ten tournament, at the moment, is in their grasp.
“We’re going to let them enjoy this for 24 hours,” Coach Lisa Bluder said after the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes downed No. 8 Maryland, 86-73, Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
But the job isn’t complete. Nowhere near.
Two of the final three Big Ten games are on the road for the Hawkeyes (21-5, 12-3). They travel to Indiana on Thursday, then journey to Nebraska next Monday.
Neither of those are gimmes.
But, senior guard Tania Davis said, “This gives us a lot of confidence going forward, so much belief in each other.”
Iowa’s last Big Ten championship banner was printed in 2008. The Hawkeyes have a tougher road than Maryland (23-3, 12-3). After the two road games, they close at home March 3 against Northwestern.
Maryland, meanwhile, has Minnesota at home, Purdue on the road and Illinois at home.
Terrapins Coach Brenda Frese was asked about the gap between the co-leaders and the rest of the league.
“I don’t see a gap,” she said. “You look at the Big Ten, and on any given night, anybody can beat anyone. We have three losses, and so does (Iowa).
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“I love it. You want every team’s best shot, and we got it today. We’ll grow from it.”
And if the Hawkeyes weren’t getting everyone’s full attention before, they will now.
They’re in first place.
“I think we have something special,” Bluder said. “I just want to share it with everybody.”
They shared it with 10,617 despite an overnight snow that made travel tricky.
“I was still expecting a great turnout,” Davis said. “I’m just so happy.”
For 24 hours.
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