The Takeaways: Doyle Carries Hawkeyes In Closing Minutes
Lisa Bluder pondered the question on Wednesday about whether Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle is crafting a resumé good enough to win Big Ten player of the year.
"I don't know if she's Big Ten player of the year, but I can certainly say what she has done for our team this year," Bluder, the Hawkeyes' coach, said. "She's putting us on her back. She is willing us to victories."
It's what Doyle did on Thursday night, when she scored 13 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter of a 77-68 win over Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Doyle played the entire quarter. She made 4-of-5 shots, all five of her are throws, and also drew four fouls.
The Hawkeyes led just 53-52 at the end of the third quarter, and needed every point to win their 31st consecutive home game, the second-longest active streak in NCAA Division I play.
Doyle is averaging 22.9 points in conference play, best in the Big Ten, and she also leads the league in assists.
Doyle scored 10 of Iowa's last 12 points to seal Thursday's win. The Hawkeyes (16-3 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) stayed in a tie for the conference lead.
As Bluder said, she is willing Iowa to wins.
Other takeaways from Thursday's victory:
200 for Bluder
It was Bluder's 200th Big Ten win, making her only the second women's coach — along with C. Vivian Stringer — to reach the milestone.
The stability of the coaching staff has been a key for Bluder's success, and she'll be the first to admit that.
This season may be one of Bluder's best coaching jobs. The Hawkeyes were expected to take a step back with the loss of national player of the year Megan Gustafson, but they are legitimate contenders for the conference title again.
Guard Makenzie Meyer went down with what looked like a left shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, but came back to finish the game.
If Doyle is carrying the Hawkeyes, Meyer provides a nice complement. She had 19 points in 38 minutes, making three critical 3-pointers.
This is the best season of Meyer's career — she has become a consistent scorer and also is strong on defense.
The Hawkeyes can't afford to lose her.
Amanda Ollinger isn't a big scorer, but she'll fill a box score.
The senior had eight rebounds and four blocked shots to go with her eight points.
Iowa's success this season has a lot to do with her contributions.