Women’s basketball teams from Iowa and Iowa State are both hoping to capture a little “Hilton magic’’ tonight when the instate rivalry is renewed.
The Hawkeyes haven’t beaten the Cyclones on the road since 1989, while ISU is looking for the 6:30 p.m. game to shake the sting of three-point losses on the road at Drake and Vanderbilt last week.
“We’re putting ourselves in positions to win games. At UNI, at Drake, at Vanderbilt, we were right there,’’ Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “We’ve got to get the big defensive stop, the rebound, hit the big free throw and shift that close game into a win.’’
Those three road losses, by a combined total of 10 points, have left the Cyclones with a 3-4 record heading into the Cy-Hawk match-up against an 8-1 Iowa team which has lost this season only to 13th-rated Florida State by a 94-93 score.
Neither Fennelly nor Iowa coach Lisa Bluder expect those records to matter much tonight in an arena where the Hawkeyes last won in 1989.
Bluder, who was coaching her final season at St. Ambrose when C. Vivian Stringer’s Iowa team won a 75-55 game at Hilton Coliseum, hasn’t won in the eight times she has coached the Hawkeyes at ISU but she remains as confident as her team.
“Whenever you go on the road, it’s a little harder and we understand that. Knowing that we haven’t had a victory there in a long time, I like where our team is right now,’’ Bluder said.
“I like how we’re playing and the confidence and chemistry of our team. We know every game anything can happen, especially on the road, but we like our chances. We know it’s going to be tough.’’
Iowa has lost in its last 10 visits to Hilton Coliseum, six times by double figures although it took an Iowa State rally to keep the streak alive with a 69-66 win there two years ago.
“It used to be when we went over there, it wasn’t fun. We were getting double-digit losses,’’ Bluder said. “About the only common theme is that the home team seems to win a lot.’’
The home team has won 15 of the last 16 games in the series although Fennelly, whose team is 2-0 at home this season, labels the Cyclones as “decided underdogs’’ against an opponent which defeated Iowa State 88-76 last year in Iowa City.
“We’ve got to find a way to turn things around, change those close road losses into games where we find ways to win at the end,’’ Fennelly said.
ISU builds around Bridget Carleton, a junior guard who averages 20 points and leads Iowa State in assists and steals, while Iowa counters with Megan Gustafson, a junior post player who averages 22.3 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting 69.6 percent from the field.