Hawkeyes trying to hold down home court

There will be two reigning conference players of the week on the Carver-Hawkeye Arena floor when the 21st-ranked Iowa women’s basketball team faces North Dakota on Saturday.

Hawkeye junior point guard Samantha Logic was named Big Ten Conference Women’s Player of the Week after her triple-double against in-state rival Drake last week, while Mia Loyd collected consecutive double-doubles in earning Big Sky Conference Women’s Player of the Week honors for North Dakota.

Iowa (11-2) comes into the game unbeaten at 7-0 at home and has won seven of its last eight games, while North Dakota is currently 6-3 but has won six of its last seven games. Tip-off Saturday is set for 2 p.m., it’s the final non-conference contest for both and the first meeting between the two schools.

“Last year we came back and we played well after Christmas,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It can actually give you a little more inspiration to get that pep back in your step.”

Bluder’s current contract was extended by the University of Iowa on Thursday. She will now be the head coach in Iowa City through 2019.

“Lisa Bluder has been a tremendous leader and mentor of the Hawkeye women’s basketball program for many years,” said University of Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta. “She is committed to continuing to work toward even more success in the future. We’re fortunate and grateful to have Lisa and her family at the University of Iowa.”

Bluder is one of 13 active Division I coaches with 600 or more wins and has coached the Hawkeyes to the NCAA tournament in each of the last six seasons.

“I feel honored that Gary (Barta) has entrusted me to lead this program well into the future,” said Bluder. “I look forward to continuing to strive for success on and off of the floor. I am proud to be a part of the Hawkeye family.”

Logic enters Saturday’s contest against UND as Iowa’s second leading scorer (13.7) and rebounder (6.3) while leading the Big Ten in assists per game (6.8). Four other Hawkeyes average in double-figures as Iowa is scoring 82 points per tilt, and surrendering 65 points at the other end of the floor.

“What can I say about Sam that hasn’t already been said?” Bluder said. “Every game I get an ‘oh wow’ moment where I just stand up and applaud because it’s so much fun to see what she did.”

Melissa Dixon is Iowa’s leading scorer at 15.4 points per game and she is one of the reasons the Hawkeyes are just one 3-pointer away from 100 makes on the season. They are connecting on just 32 percent from long range though.

Six-foot-4 junior Bethany Doolittle (13.5 points, 5.8 rebounds), freshman Ally Disterhoft (11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds) and senior Theairra Taylor (10 points, 4.2 rebounds) also are averaging in double figures this season.

Loyd, a freshman, is North Dakota’s second-leading scorer but she averages a double-double at 13.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. She has three total double-doubles on the year.

Madi Buck leads North Dakota at 17.4 points per game and also grabs 7.2 boards per contest. UND is just 2-3 on the road this year.

Iowa is the third team from the state that North Dakota will play this season. UND opened the year with road losses to Iowa State (84-55) and Northern Iowa (61-56) in early November. Minnesota beat North Dakota, 46-44, at home earlier this month.

Iowa averaged around 25 free throws per game prior to its home win over Drake last week. Against the Bulldogs, the Hawkeyes were just 3-of-4.

“I am concerned about that,” Bluder said. “We need to get there, we need to draw fouls. We weren’t even in the bonus in the second half, so yeah, it’s a little bit of an area of concern.”