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On Campus: Iowa's Dixon leads Big Ten in 3s

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 4:27 p.m. CST

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“We’re always looking for the best shot, not just the next shot,” said junior guard Melissa Dixon, a Johnsburg graduate.

Dixon, who scores 13.7 points a game, is one of five Iowa players to average in double figures. That output has led the Hawkeyes to 20 wins and the second-most victories in Big Ten Conference play.

Thanks to contributions from five different scoring sources, Iowa (20-6 overall, 8-4 conference) is 8-2 in its past 10 games and in fourth place in the league. Dixon’s role is different this season, but her production is similarly impressive.

The league’s Sixth Player of the Year winner last season, she ranked fifth in the conference with 78 made 3-pointers. As a starter this season, Dixon’s 72 3s is the most in the conference.

“I was ready for it,” she said of moving into the starting lineup. “This year, I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team win.”

For Dixon, that has meant being a difficult player to cover on the perimeter.

In Monday’s 90-84 victory against Northwestern, she connected on 6-of-9 three-point shots for a team-high 24 points. The win was the fourth time this season that she has made six or more threes in a game.

“We did a really good job of moving the ball around,” she said.

Getting to 20 wins, which the team did with Thursday’s 69-55 victory against Illinois, has made the Hawkeyes one of the league’s biggest movers and shakers, with six wins in the past seven league games.

The most impressive victory was a 73-70 triumph Feb. 6 at Penn State, the Hawkeyes’ first road win against a Top 10 team since 1993.

“It was an amazing experience for us,” Dixon said. “We beat a really great team.”Monday’s win against Northwestern also gave Dixon and her teammates a truly memorable experience.

The victory was No. 270 for Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, making her the winningest coach in school history, passing the legendary C. Vivian Stringer.

“It was a lot of fun,” Dixon said. “I’m so thankful that I have the opportunity to play for her.”

Great Lakes go-getter: Prairie Ridge grad Samantha Nirva was recognized Wednesday as a Great Lakes Valley Conference Athlete of the Week in women’s track.

Nirva, a junior at D-II Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana, was honored as the field event recipient for winning the pentathlon at last weekend’s Wide Track Classic at Hillsdale College.

Nirva’s 3,253 points in the event were good for provisional qualification for the D-II indoor nationals. The conference award is Nirva’s second this season.

Nirva also earned provisional status in the 60-meter hurdles by finishing third in a personal-best time of 8.8 seconds. Her efforts also earned Nirva SJC’s Puma Athlete of the Week honors.

Senior shines for UIC: Richmond-Burton grad Matt Marzahl won the Division I high jump last weekend for UIC’s men’s track and field team at the Windy City Rumble hosted by the University of Chicago.

Marzahl, a senior at UIC, cleared 6 feet, 5 inches to win the event by nearly six inches.

Anderson aces: Local grads Max Kittle and Alex Friske have enjoyed recent success for D-III Anderson (Ind.) University’s men’s and women’s track teams, respectively.

Kittle, a Dundee-Crown product, won the 200 dash (22.38 seconds) and the 60 hurdles (8.26) while also being a member of the victorious 800 and 1,600 relay teams for the Ravens. Anderson finished second as a team at its own invitational indoor meet last weekend. Kittle’s 200 time ranks ninth in the nation.

The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honored Kittle as its Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Week.

Friske (McHenry) set a school record Feb. 2 in the 55 hurdles at the Taylor University Indoor Invitational with a time of 8.47 seconds. Friske’s time in the fastest in the HCAC this season and ranks 15th nationally.

She also placed second in the 55 hurdles in 7.64.

• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him @BarryOnCampus on Twitter. 

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