By Sean Bock
Loser of two-straight games, Iowa will try to get back in the win column Jan. 21 against Minnesota in Minneapolis.
The Hawkeyes (15-4, 3-3 Big Ten) are fresh off a 74-65 loss at Nebraska on Tuesday, their third loss in four games.
Iowa shot 39 percent from the field and missed all seven of its 3-point attempts. Only two Hawkeyes — Megan Gustafson and Amanda Ollinger — scored in double figures.
In losses to Purdue on Jan. 13 and the Cornhuskers, Iowa shot a combined 3-of-23 (13 percent) from 3-point range.
“We have to get our confidence back shooting the ball; that’s the fun part about basketball, and that’s the fun part about practicing: going into the gym by yourself and imagining yourself in these pressure situations,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said in a release. “To me, that’s the most enjoyable part of the game. We need to get that back; we need to get to the gym and get that confidence back as a shooting team because we are a great shooting team.”
With their recent struggles from the perimeter, the Hawkeyes have seen themselves dip in numerous offensive rankings, including points per game and 3-point percentage — the difference in their recent losses.
Since losing one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, Makenzie Meyer, to injury, Iowa has had a tough time finding a consistent threat from behind the arc, which it relies on much of the offense.
Guard Alexis Sevillian provided a great boost in nonconference play off the bench but hasn’t been her usual self in recent games. In the last two losses, Sevillian has scored a total of 7 points and has shot 3-of-17 from the field, 1-of-11 from 3-point land.
To make things worse, Kathleen Doyle has also experienced a rough patch.
The sophomore guard is averaging 7.5 points in her last two outings, but like Sevillian, she hasn’t had the best of luck shooting the ball — one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, she’s 4-of-26 on field goals.
Though Megan Gustafson has been playing like an All-American all season, the backcourt duo of Sevillian and Doyle need to be on their A-Game every night, especially with the absence of guards Tania Davis and Meyer.
“Megan played great, but we need to get more people involved than her,” Bluder said on Jan. 13. “It can’t just be the Megan Show, and to me, it looked like we were standing around and waiting for her to do all the work.”
The Gophers (15-5/4-3, Big Ten) are coming off a win at Wisconsin on Jan. 18 in Madison. Minnesota is led by the guard tandem of Kenisha Bell and Carlie Wagner, who average 19.3 and 18.1 points per game.
The veteran-heavy squad is 8-1 on its home court this season, with its only loss against Nebraska on Dec. 31, 2017, 79-74.
“I know Nebraska beat Minnesota at Minnesota,” Bluder said in a release. “So obviously, if you look at the two tough teams this week, we probably have the tougher one over. I hate to say that because Minnesota can score at will. But they have three guards who play 40 minutes as we do. They can score like crazy, so we will have to bring our defensive savvy to this game.”