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Crucial week starts Monday for Hawks

[ 0 ] January 23, 2011 |

No. 18 Iowa needs a win Monday to stay in the thick of the conference race.

But Value City Arena isn’t the easy location to escape with a win. Ohio State is 136-11 in Value City Arena under coach Jim Foster.

“Obviously a very tough place to play,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

Iowa (15-4, 3-3) has not won in Columbus, Ohio, since 1998. But the Hawkeyes can build off a narrow 86-82 loss there last spring, and an 89-76 victory over the Buckeyes back on Jan. 8 in Iowa City.

“We got some confidence from that win,” sophomore guard Jaime Printy said. “We know what we have to do in order to stop them, in order for our offense to work.”

Of course, Ohio State (12-6, 3-3) seems to have learned from that loss, as well. After a bad stretch in which the Buckeyes went 3-6 from Dec. 11 to Jan. 13, Ohio State has won two in a row, including a 67-53 clubbing of No. 9 Michigan State on Jan. 16 in Value City Arena.

“I think (Jantel) Lavender will come out strong,” Printy said. “She didn’t struggle, she always plays good, but she didn’t have one of her best games against us. I think that will be a big key for us again.”

Iowa held the three-time Big Ten MVP to 14 points and 17 rebounds. A solid game for almost anyone else, it was about 10 off the 6-foot-4 center’s normal scoring output.

Monday, on a national TV game (ESPN2), Lavender is 16 rebounds away from becoming the Big Ten’s all-time leader. She also is three field goals from becoming just the second Big Ten player to hit 1,000 in her career.

“We have to play great team defense,” Printy said. “The guards have to always be ready when we need to trap, when we need to help.”

The Ohio trip starts a vital week in which the Hawkeyes play three games in seven days. After the Buckeyes, Iowa hosts No. 9 Michigan State on Thursday, then travels Sunday to Illinois.

After that, the Big Ten schedule is more than half over for the Hawkeyes. They will have four of their final seven games at home, with road trips to Pudue, Northwestern and Indiana.

“I’m not sure anyone else has as tough of schedule as we do to start the Big Ten,” senior Kachine Alexander said. “Which is nice, we get them out of the way … but you’ve got to stay focused.”

Iowa owns two wins and a pair of close losses in the last five matchups with the Buckeyes. The loser has a much steeper hill to climb to earn a league title.

“It’s always fun to play Ohio State,” Alexander said. “We have to match the intensity we played with on our home court.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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