It’s a team that has provided head coach Coquese Washington’s squads with some problems in the past.
So why would she expect anything but a battle when her No. 8 Lady Lions (20-3, 10-1 Big Ten) prepare to take on Iowa in Iowa City tonight at 8?
Fact of the matter is she doesn’t, and despite the Hawkeyes’ current four-game losing streak, Washington still respects them and their dynamic players that can take over at any moment of the game.
“They’re a team that has kind of had some bad luck lately, some tough losses I think, but they keep competing,” Washington said. “Morgan Johnson is having a fantastic season, Jaime Printy is still shooting the ball from deep and driving it to the basket, so they’ve got two pretty good players that are capable of carrying them and putting up big numbers.”
Washington isn’t fooled by the mirage of Johnson and Printy’s struggles in the last meeting between the two schools –– Jan. 22, 2012 –– where they combined for 19 points on 7-for-25 from the field.
The pair’s numbers this season speak for themselves.
Both rank in the top 11 in the conference in scoring and combine to score 29.5 points per game, nearly 43 percent of the Hawkeyes’ points. Nine times this season one of the two has scored more than 20 points in a game and Printy highlighted the season with a 33-point outing in the Hawkeyes’ 83-73 win at San Diego.
In hopes of limiting the two high performers, the Lions realize that they have to play collectively on defense and deny easy buckets.
“We just got to play our game, we have to make sure we come out focused defensively,” senior guard Alex Bentley said. “We have to stick to our principles, they like to cut backdoor and things like that, so we can’t give them easy buckets and we have to play fast on offense.”
While the Lions have rattled off victories –– winning 14 of their last 15 games and five of the last six on the road –– the importance of putting together a complete game is what the players said would be key in producing the squad’s 11th win in conference play.
“It’s extremely hard to keep a 40-minute game playing your game the entire game and keeping that energy and that focus up, but that’s what separates the championship teams from the mediocre ones,” Bentley said.