The Iowa women’s basketball team returns to the court on Friday night as they travel to Des Moines to play Drake in their last non-conference game of the season. The Hawkeyes are 8-2 on the year and that includes victories over interstate rivals Iowa State and Northern Iowa, good enough for a No. 16 ranking.
The Hawkeyes are looking for their fifth consecutive victory after righting the ship following a 34 point thumping against formerly top-ranked Notre Dame.
All-American senior Megan Gustafson, fresh off another Big Ten Player of the Week honor, leads the Hawkeyes in points at 24.7 per game. Gustafson is shooting .754 on the season though she has yet to pull the trigger on a three-point attempt which I hope is coming soon. Gustafson also leads the team in rebounds and blocked shots and is regularly double and triple teamed by defenses which means that the shooters are going to have their opportunities from deep.
Against Northern Iowa, Iowa was 7-14 from behind the arc, including two from junior Kathleen Doyle who made her debut in the starting lineup against the Panthers after being out early in the year with a broken hand. This percentage was a big improvement from their efforts in previous games, including a 1-14 outing against IUPUI in early December.
Besides Gustafson, four other Hawks are averaging double figures in scoring. Doyle is averaging 14.0 points (in only three games) while senior Hannah Stewart chips in 12.9 ppg, junior Makenzie Meyer averages 11.3 ppg, and senior Tania Davis averages 11.1 points.
It will be all hands on deck once the Big Ten season starts at the end of the month when Iowa travels to play #22 Michigan State on December 30. The Big Ten currently has four teams ranked in the AP Top 25 led by undefeated and #5 ranked Maryland. The poll is suspect though as Indiana is missing even though they are 10-0 and Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Rutgers, and Northwestern have three losses are less and will certainly be formidable opponents.