By Sean Bock
It was a scrappy, grind it out, ugly type of game in Carver-Hawkeye on the evening of Nov. 10.
The Iowa women’s basketball team was able to come away with an 83-67 win over Quinnipiac, and head coach Lisa Bluder picked up her 700th career win as a head coach at the college level.
“Anytime you have a milestone win, it just gives you that time to reflect,” Bluder said. “I told the women in the locker room after that I’ve been able to coach a lot of great women over the years, but this group is really special, and I’m glad I got to share that [milestone] with this group.”
No team could get an edge as both teams stayed within striking distance for the majority of the game, but Iowa was able to use a 14-2 streak in the last 4:02 of the fourth quarter and ended the contest on a 21-3 run.
“After Megan [Gustafson] got like a million of boards, you could just tell our energy was through the roof at that point,” sophomore guard Kathleen Doyle said. “It was really discouraging for them.”
Turnovers were a subplot of the story — the Hawkeyes coughed the ball up 16 times, 9 in the first half.
The Bobcats are known for their up-tempo play, which the Hawkeyes realized right out of the gate.
Iowa struggled mightily in the first half taking care of the rock but seemed to settle down in the last 20 minutes and played within themselves offensively.
Doyle did a little bit of everything in the win. She had a team-high 17 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 6-of-11 from the field in 31 minutes of play.
Doyle’s rebounding total may seem odd, considering she’s one of the smallest players on the court, but forward Hannah Stewart led the team in assists with 5.
“Exciting way to begin the year; that fourth quarter was pretty good,” Bluder said. “We had a lot of really good career highs tonight; Doyle had her career high in rebounds, and ironically, Hannah Stewart led us in assists, so very unusual.”
Junior forward Gustafson was dominant down low, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds and shooting an efficient 7-of-9 from the field.
The Hawkeyes had the size advantage over the Bobcats, and when they started to feed the ball to the bigs, good things happened.
Quinnipiac junior forward Jen Fay gave the Iowa defense problems as she tallied a game-high 23 points and 6 rebounds.
Conference preseason Player of the Year Aryn McClure had a quiet night for the Bobcats. The junior guard had 8 points and shot 3-of-10 while struggling with foul trouble; she ultimately fouled out with 3:43 to go in the fourth quarter.
With the victory, the Hawkeyes started 1-0, and they will match up against Western Kentucky at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Carver-Hawkeye. The Hilltoppers are fresh off a 79-76 victory over No. 16 Missouri.
“It’s amazing being able to be a part of this team and have Coach Bluder as our coach,” Gustafson said. “She cares about us not just as basketball players but off the court, too, so to play for someone like that is really special.”