The American University Eagles tried to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes at their own game, and it almost worked.
Friday afternoon against Iowa, the American University women’s basketball team utilized a dynamic perimeter attack, deadly accurate shooting, and a speedy transition game to give the Hawkeyes all they could handle.
An exhibition in offensive ability, the Hawkeyes clashed with an AU squad with an eerily similar offensive approach, narrowly outlasting the Eagles 75-67 in Iowa City.
“We shot the ball well, especially from three-point range today,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “From the line too. We hit our free-throws down the stretch when we needed to.”
Unlike a few of the Big Ten squads who gave the Black and Gold fits earlier in the year, a lack of a truly dominant post player on the American roster meant that the Eagles had to look to the outside for the bulk of their offense, trading chances with the high-flying Hawks all game long.
“Iowa is a terrific team, they just shot better than we did,” American head coach Megan Gebbia said. “If you would have told me we were going to shoot 42% from two, 43% from three, and still loose, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
It’s an approach that fans in attendance at Carver-Hawkeye Arena were probably more than happy to put up with, as both the Eagles and the Hawkeyes turned the floor into a virtual shooting gallery, a non-stop, back-and-forth slugfest with both teams more than happy to pull the trigger.
The Hawks drilled four triples in the first half, including a pair from senior Melissa Dixon.
Typically, a hot-handed Dixon spells almost certain headaches all game long for whomever the Hawks are playing, but the Eagles didn’t seem at all interested in letting the Johnsburg, Illinois native be the only player on the floor who could threaten from beyond the arc.
They answered back with six three’s of their own in the first half, including two from forward Arron Zimmerman, and after 20 minutes, had pulled dead even with Iowa on the scoreboard at 36 apiece.
“They probably hit a few more shots than we anticipated at first,” senior Sam Logic said. “Especially from the three-point line. But that’s a credit to them and what a tough shooting team they are.”
With nearly 90 shots between the two teams, Friday’s win was verification of style for Iowa more than anything else.
A team built on great shooters during the regular season, Iowa’s identity translated to post-season success Friday, albeit with a few hiccups.
All-in-all, the Hawkeyes shot 49% from the field but managed to go 9-15 from beyond the arc to seal the win, just like they’ve done so many times this year.
And while Bluder’s Hawks hit their stride offensively there is certainly improvement needed on the defensive side of the ball that must be made before Iowa takes on Miami on Sunday afternoon.
“We need to do a better job on the boards than we did tonight,” Bluder said. “That and doing a better job on transition defense than we did tonight, so definitely those two.”