Iowa set for another ranked showdown against NC State
IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - For the second time in five days, the Iowa women’s basketball team will face a ranked opponent as the Hawkeyes welcome North Carolina State for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge inside Carver Hawkeye Arena.
Both teams share one familiar opponent in Connecticut. The Huskies handed the Hawks their second loss on the season in the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament. Iowa believes these early tests will pay off down the stretch.
“I think it’s a confidence builder, but it’s disappointing because you want to finish the deal and we didn’t do that,,” Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder said following the loss to UConn. “I asked the team afterwards, do you feel like you competed with the number three team in the country? They resoundingly said yes.”
Although Iowa isn’t a team about moral victories, their seven point loss to No. 3 UConn gave the team a boost in confidence.
“It definitely helps us figure out what areas we need to work on and I think it can also help build confidence in a lot of different areas. I think it really shows that our team can be extremely cohesive. Anyone can have 20 points a game, so I think that also makes our team even stronger,” senior guard McKenna Warnock said.
It especially helped senior guard Kate martin who scored a career-high 20 points and went 6-for-6 from three point range against the Huskies.
“Whenever you have great players like Monika and Caitlin and great shooters like McKenna and Gabbie, it gives me the chance to get open a little more whenever they have to focus on my other teammates. My teammates honestly just did a good job of finding me and I was just feeling it,” Martin said.
The Hawkeyes had four scorers in double figures for the first time since they put up a program record of 115 points against Evansville in early November. Going up against the Wolfpack, Iowa’s defense will be imperative.
“I think we’re going to try different things and we’re just going to keep being pesky on defense.” Martin said.
“They’re an excellent rebounding team. In fact, 10 percent of their offense comes for their offensive boards. That’s a lot. That’s a high number. We need to box out,” Bluder added.
Iowa is just 4-10 overall in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This matchup will mark the third in six games that Iowa will play a ranked or Power Five conference team before even tapping into their tough conference schedule.
“We just want to focus on us and keep the pedal to the metal right now,” Martin said.
“Any time you’re playing a great school, it’s just an unbelievable opportunity. We have a lot of those and we’re going to have a lot of them. I mean we host Iowa State next week,” Bluder said.
This meeting will mark fourth between these two programs and the last of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The inter-conference event will come to an end next season.
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