The Iowa women’s basketball team did a much better job as the hunter than they currently doing as the hunted.
The Hawkeyes are 6-0 against ranked opponents this season but since becoming a nationally ranked team two weeks ago, Iowa has dropped three straight games.
The third game came Thursday night in Minneapolis as the Gophers got 34 points from Rachel Bannam and 13 rebounds from Micaella Riche in the 72-60 victory over the Hawkeyes.
“We fought hard but came up short,” said Iowa senior Jaime Printy, who finished with a team-high 21 points and five rebounds. “The season is not over, but we need to start getting it done soon though.”
Since cracking the top 25 rankings, the Hawkeyes have lost three straight games to teams below them in the conference standings. They lost road games to Illinois and Minnesota and dropped a home contest to Northwestern this past weekend after the Wildcats connected on a game-winning layup at the buzzer.
“We can’t dwell on this loss,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “We have to play again Monday. We need to get back to the gym and get our confidence back. I think we are just lacking some confidence right now.”
It is hard to be confident when you make shots at a 29 percent rate. That is what Iowa shot Thursday against the Gophers. The Hawkeyes also got out-rebounded 48-34.
“We haven’t shot the ball well the past few games, and we won’t win many games shooting 29 percent,” Bluder said, “We didn’t crash the boards well either. The margin is disappointing for us.”
The Gophers grabbed control of the game with a 9-0 run in the first half and never trailed again. That pushed the Minnesota lead to 13-6 and it took a 38-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Iowa got as close as 60-57 with 5:18 to play following six straight points from Printy. Minnesota then ended the game on a 12-3 run to finish off the home win.
Bluder said Bannam’s 3 that pushed the lead back to six with less than 2:20 to play was the dagger.
“Rachel Bannam was fantastic,” Bluder said. “She hit some tough shots. She broke our back tonight. That 3 she hit with the shot clock winding down was the backbreaker.”
Printy was just 6-of-22 from the floor was hit 5-of-9 from long range. Her 21 points pushed her into fifth place on Iowa’s all-time scoring list with 1,754 points, passing Franthea Price’s 1,742.
Senior Morgan Johnson finished with her seventh double-double of the season and the 19th of her career with 13 points and 10 rebounds. She moved into 11th all-time in scoring with 1,440 points and became the seventh player in Iowa history to grab more than 800 rebounds.
No other Hawkeye scored in double-figures, but junior Theiarra Taylor had nine points and five boards before fouling out. Sophomore Sam Logic did not score but dished out five assists, pushing her into the 13th spot on the all-time assists list at Iowa. The Hawkeyes stayed in the game by scoring 28 points off Minnesota’s 16 turnovers.
“I am proud of my team, we did everything we could tonight,” said Johnson.
Shayne Mullaney had 11 points and Kayla Hirt scored 10 off the bench for the Gophers, who scored 32 points in the paint.
Iowa drops to 16-8 overall and 5-5 in league play following the loss, while Minnesota is now 15-9 and 4-6.
It won’t get any easier for the Hawkeyes as they try to end a three-game losing streak. Iowa will play three of the top four teams in the league in its next four outings.
That stretch starts Monday at home against Nebraska at 7:30 p.m. and then Thursday at home against No. 9 Penn State at 7 p.m. After that, Iowa heads to nationally ranked Purdue and then to Nebraska.
“We have a good opportunity to get things back on track and bounce back,” Johnson said. “We need to focus on the defensive end and with fundamentals. I think if we improve those areas, we’ll be OK.”