Jan. 5, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa women's basketball team has proven to be a resilient bunch following losses in 2013-14. Following an 86-84 defeat in their Big Ten opener at Indiana, the Hawkeyes are hoping to continue the trend Sunday against No. 15 Penn State.
"It will be important to learn from (the Indiana) game, but keep going," said junior Melissa Dixon. "The Big Ten is a long season, and you have to bounce back. We have to get back to how we were playing earlier in the season."
Iowa started the season with four-straight victories before dropping its first game -- a 90-87 decision at 16th-ranked Colorado on Nov. 21. The Hawkeyes followed with six-straight wins, including a title at the Cancun Challenge and a victory over No. 22 Syracuse, before falling on the road at No. 17 Iowa State.
The Hawkeyes responded with back-to-back wins over Drake and North Dakota before falling at undefeated Indiana on Jan. 2 in Bloomington when the Hoosiers connected on 11-of-23 3-point attempts. Iowa was 3-of-17.
"We didn't come out playing our best, especially defensively," said junior Samantha Logic. "We could not buy a stop. (The score) was 11-11 in the first four minutes. We like playing that (style of) basketball, but you have to get stops."
With multi-talented Maggie Lucas and the Nittany Lions coming to Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a 2 p.m. (CT) tipoff, the Hawkeye defense will need to figure out a way to slow down the Penn State guard. She is one of three Penn State players averaging double figures.
Lucas is second in the conference in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game, is shooting 38.1 percent from the floor and has 23 of Penn State's 37 3-point field goals. On top of that, Lucas is nearly automatic from the free throw line, making 76-of-78 attempts on the year.
"If she's not the best, she's top two easily," said Logic said of where Lucas ranks among Big Ten players. "She's a tough guard that can shoot the heck out of the ball. They feed off her, and she's one of those players you have to contain. You're not going to shut her down, you have to work to contain her and contest every shot."
Logic says the Hawkeyes will mix up their defensive duties against Penn State to combat Lucas' play-making skills and the Nittany Lion height -- 6-foot-3, 6-5 and either 6-3 or 6-6 on the front line.
"We'll mix it up to give her different looks, lengths and speeds," said Logic. "We'll try to contain and make it tough on her. She's going to score, so we have to be ready and know that and make everything tough."
After going through the motions in Bloomington, Dixon says Iowa needs to bring energy from the get go.
"We have to be up for this game," she said. "We have to come out from the start because when we get down, it's tough to fight back. We have to start the game with a lot of energy.
"We need to get back to playing Iowa basketball and do what we do well."
Game time is set for 2 p.m. (CT), and it will be televised on Mediacom and streamed online via the Big Ten Digital Network.