Iowa women's basketball team brings 5-game win streak to the Crisler Center tonight
There should be no lack of confidence at the Crisler Center Thursday night when the Iowa women’s basketball team takes on Michigan (8 p.m., BTN).
"Iowa is riding a five-game win streak. So obviously, they're feeling pretty good about themselves,” Michigan coach Kevin Borseth said. “We beat Nebraska, we're at home, we feel pretty good about ourselves.”
Michigan had its first week off since Big Ten play started in early January. Now the Wolverines hope it didn’t slow down any momentum they picked up by upsetting No. 13-ranked Nebraska last Thursday.
"Hopefully we will use (the off week) to our advantage, obviously,” senior guard Carmen Reynolds said. “With bye weeks you never know what's going to happen. We get more rest, we get more preparation, but when it comes down to it, it's just 40 minutes of playing basketball so anything can really happen."
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Michigan (18-7, 7-5) is in sixth place in the Big Ten standings, a half game behind the Hawkeyes (16-10, 8-5). With four regular season games remaining, this game becomes key for Big Ten tournament seeding and NCAA tournament consideration.
After struggling early this season, Iowa is trying to play itself back into a fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance with its current five-game winning streak.
And the Hawkeyes have done much of their winning without leading scorer Jaime Printy. The junior guard, who was averaging 16.9 points, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee against Wisconsin on Feb. 2.
The Hawkeyes won that game, 85-79 in overtime, and have since rolled off consecutive wins against Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan State.
"We have such a balanced team," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said after the Michigan State win. "I don't think we've ever been a one-person show. Jaime was certainly our leading scorer, but I think when Jaime went down, everybody had a focus that they had to pick up their game a little bit."
During their winning streak, the Hawkeyes are averaging 75.2 points, including 19.4 from 6-foot-5 junior center Morgan Johnson. Senior guard Kamille Wahlin (15.8) and freshman guard Samantha Logic (12.6) are also averaging double-digit points.
Michigan, meanwhile, prides itself on defense. The Wolverines are allowing 57.7 points, second-best in the Big Ten. Nebraska was averaging 74.5 points before the Wolverines limited the Cornhuskers to a season-low 52 - and just 12 by halftime - last week.
Another key statistic to watch: Iowa attempts to force turnovers with a trapping 2-1-2 zone defense, but Michigan has the second-best turnover margin in the conference.
“Their defense, right now, field goal percentage wise, is the best in the league. They mix their defenses up pretty good to keep you off guard a little,” Borseth said. “They're pretty well groomed right now; so are we. We're in the same boat they're in obviously. We feel we have good chances against anyone they play."