IOWA CITY — At roughly 7:45 Thursday night, the Iowa women’s basketball team was on top of the world.
At least the Big Ten.
Minnesota seemed to be putting the finishing touches on an upset of Maryland, leading by seven points with less than a minute to play. And the Hawkeyes held a 16-point lead at Indiana.
Then, in the words of Hawkeyes Coach Lisa Bluder, “It all went to heck.”
Maryland rallied with a furious 9-0 run to shock the Gophers, 71-69. And the Hoosiers went crazy from the perimeter and upended the Hawkeyes, 75-73.
What appeared to be a one-game lead in the Big Ten with two games to go swung to a one-game deficit.
“Maybe the pressure got to us; I don’t know,” Bluder said afterward. “The pressure is off now, so we can play our best basketball and get ready for the Big Ten tournament.”
The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes have stumbled. Now they try to keep it from becoming a full-blown fall.
Iowa (21-6 overall, 12-4 Big Ten) plays its final road test of the season Monday at Nebraska (13-14, 8-8).
Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.
“I hope we’re able to refocus,” Bluder said.
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There’s still hope in the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten championship campaign, but they no longer control their own destiny.
Iowa must sweep its remaining two games (it closes next Sunday at home against Northwestern), and Maryland must slip at least once.
The Terrapins are at Purdue on Monday (that one could be tricky) then host Illinois on Saturday (that one should be easy).
Iowa won its first meeting this season with Nebraska, 77-71, on Jan. 3 behind 28 points and 17 rebounds from Megan Gustafson.
Leigha Brown led Nebraska with 20 points.
The Huskers have won three of their last four games and are in the middle of a seven-team logjam in the middle of the league; they could finish anywhere from fifth to 11th.
Pinnacle Bank Arena has been tough on Iowa since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are 2-3 in the arena, including a 74-65 loss there last season.
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