Mechanical issues with a plane scrapped plans for the Iowa women’s basketball team to spend time sightseeing in nearby Washington, D.C., before playing at Maryland tonight.
The problems pushed the 18th-ranked Hawkeyes’ departure back a day to Wednesday, denying Iowa an extra day on the road as well as a chance to see historic landmarks and visit the Smithsonian.
The Hawkeyes will still get a chance to see the win column again, though, visiting the 13th-rated Terrapins in Iowa’s toughest road test so far this season in a 5 p.m. game today.
"They’re another good team that is ranked ahead of us, but beating a top-25 team (on Sunday in a win over Michigan) should give us confidence going against another top-25 team," Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said.
The Maryland game begins a stretch in which Iowa plays four of its next five games away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Eleven wins on the Hawkeyes’ 14-1 record have come at Carver-Hawkeye or on a neutral court, but Iowa has won at Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin in its most recent trips away from home.
"We’ve proven that we can compete against good teams," forward Carly Mohns said. "The team uses ‘grit’ as a word, and we have it. Perseverance has a lot to do with it. There’s a toughness that we have that is making a difference.’’
The Hawkeyes’ start is the program’s best since the 1995-96 season when Iowa won 20 of its first 21 games on its way to a Sweet 16 appearance.
Maryland, 13-2 on the season and matching the Hawkeyes’ 2-0 start in Big Ten play, has lost only to fourth-rated South Carolina and top-ranked Connecticut this season.
Coached by Cedar Rapids native Brenda Frese, the Terrapins return two starters from last season’s 32-3 team.
The Terrapins have outscored their opponents by a Big Ten-best 27.4 points per game, mirroring Iowa’s strengths from 3-point range and on the boards.
Maryland’s Kaila Charles, Blair Watson, Iesha Small and Stephanie Jones lead a balanced attack, each averaging between 12.1 and 17.7 points per game.
"We played pretty well at Maryland last year, and they lost a lot of players. This is a great opportunity for us," Bluder said, referencing a 100-81 loss last January.
The Hawkeyes understand that.
"We need to keep working and believing in what we’re doing," said Iowa junior Megan Gustafson, third in the Big Ten in scoring at 22.5 points per game and leading the conference with an average of 12.5 rebounds per game.
Iowa follows tonight’s game with a 1 p.m. start Sunday at Illinois, a place where the Hawkeyes lost 70-65 a year ago.
"We remember that as well," Bluder said. "We just have to go on the road now and bring the same energy and execution that we have brought to our other games this season."