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Monday, February 11, 2008

Iowa women win 8th straight

The Iowa women’s basketball team continued their hot streak on Sunday with a 73-65 win over Penn State in Happy Valley. The Hawkeyes have now won 8 straight games and moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Iowa improved to 17-7 on the season and 10-3 in conference play. Sunday’s win over the Nittany Lions also gave coach Lisa Bluder her 500th career victory and her 144th as Iowa’s head coach.

The Hawkeyes were led in scoring by guard Kristi Smith who poured in 20 points on 6 of 12 shooting. Senior Jo Solverson was Iowa’s next leading scorer with 16 points on 7 of 13 shooting in 24 minutes played. Solverson led the Hawkeyes with 11 points in the first half helping Iowa to a 33-28 halftime lead. Iowa shot the ball very well on the afternoon making 25 of 48 shots as a team while also connecting on 19 of 20 free throws.

The win gave Iowa a half-game lead in the conference over Purdue who plays at Michigan State tonight. The Hawkeyes will travel to West Lafayette to face Purdue on Thursday night to begin a huge three game stretch. Iowa faces the other top teams in the Big Ten in their next three games: the Boilermakers (9-3), Minnesota (8-5), and Ohio State (9-4), before finishing the regular season against cellar dwellers Northwestern (0-12) and Wisconsin (4-8).

With every victory Iowa is looking more and more like a team that deserves a bid in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, but they still have to be considered “on the bubble” thanks in large part to an average performance in non-conference games. The Hawkeyes are currently rated 38th by CollegeRPI.com and 37th by computer rating guru Jeff Sagarin. Certainly if Iowa can win 3 or 4 of their last 5 they should expect a ticket to the Big Dance. CollegeRPI.com’s current bracket projection has Iowa as an 8-seed meeting Texas in the first round.