If there wasn’t much of a scouting report on Iowa freshman Melissa Dixon before her first career start on Sunday, there certainly is one now.
Dixon had a career-high five 3-pointers and 19 points in the Hawkeyes win 83-64 win over Indiana.
“I’ve been out for like a month,” Dixon said. I don’t think they knew who I was.”
Dixon had played in three Big Ten games before Sunday, but had emerged as the top-scoring reserve before a torn meniscus put her on the shelf for seven games.
“Honestly, I don’t think many people knew that much about her,” freshman Samantha Logic said. “When you are scouting, you don’t see her in the lineup.
“She got a lot more open shots than she expected and we expected. She just knocked them down.”
Dixon never thought she’d be starting as a freshman. And given the circumstances, she wishes she wasn’t starting now.
The freshman from Johnsburg, Ill., stepped into the starting lineup after junior Jaime Printy suffered an ACL injury last week in an 85-79 overtime win in Madison, Wis.
“I don’t think any of us have gotten over it yet, to be quite honest,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “I think it will be good for our team to come home.”
Iowa (14-10, 6-5) brings a three-game winning streak into the 7 p.m. tipoff tonight against Minnesota (12-13, 4-7). The Hawkeyes have gotten back into the discussion for the NCAA Tournament, but now have to finish the job without Printy, who was leading the team in scoring (16.9 points per game), 3-point goals (45), and assists (4.2).
Printy had surgery on Tuesday and is expected to return for her senior season.
Without their top offensive threat, Bluder turned to a freshman who had missed a month with injury. A freshman who had initially planned to walk on as a grayshirt at Iowa.
“Before I got here, I wasn’t even expecting to play this year,” Dixon said. “I was a little surprised (to get the start). I was willing to step up, and do what needed to be done.”
Bluder knew she got a shooter when she recruited Dixon — who leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage (42.1 percent) — but her defense has gotten her playing time.
“I didn’t realize how physical she could be on defense and how good of a job she could do on the defensive end,” Bluder said. “I knew that from watching her play that she was going to be a shooter.”
Dixon isn’t shy or nervous about taking shots. But she was a little nervous before her first start in Bloomington, Ind.
“She was just a little stressed out,” junior Morgan Johnson said. “She was a little quieter, and for Dixon to be quiet is kind of a big thing.
“I told her to be calm, that the coaches had confidence in her.”
The Hawkeyes are going to lean on Dixon, and all the starters, the rest of the season. Senior Kalli Hansen remains out with a leg injury, and freshman Virginia Johnson is now sitting out with headaches.
That leaves four healthy bodies on the bench for Iowa. And junior Trisha Nesbitt (24) and freshman Kathryn Reynolds (13) have not played many minutes in 11 Big Ten games.
Minnesota comes to town having lost four of its last five, but is still playing the top Big Ten teams tight. Freshman point guard Rachel Banham leads the team with 15.8 points per game. Senior guard Kiara Buford (13.8) and 6-foot-4 forward Katie Loberg (10.0) also average double figures.
“I believe they have the Freshman of the Year in the Big Ten starting for them at point guard,” Bluder said. “To come in as a freshman and put up the kind of numbers she’s doing is absolutely amazing.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes women's basketball