By Jordan Zuniga
It was just another day on the court Dec. 17 for the Iowa women’s basketball team after a 71-47 win over Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
The win moves the Hawkeyes to 11-1 on the season, their best start since 2010.
“Our team played a good second half,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “UNI was excellent in the first half, they got to us; our team lost its composure when Tania went down. That was stressful for all of us. We regrouped at halftime, and came out, and played a lot better basketball, and shot the ball a lot better.”
Megan Gustafson put on a show. In each of the Hawkeyes’ 11 wins, she has picked up a double-double, and this game was no different.
Gustafson’s 11th double-double (which leads the nation) consisted of 26 points and 10 rebounds — both team highs.
Alexis Sevillian was the only other Hawkeye who reached double figures, scoring 11 points and hitting all three of her 3-point attempts.
Typical for Iowa, the rest of its points were distributed evenly, with six Hawkeyes scoring at least 5. The even distribution of points was once again a product of Iowa’s selflessness — for the 10th time this season, it racked up more than 20 assists.
The offence was exceptional, as usual, but the Hawkeyes’ defense was the story of the game.
Northern Iowa was held to just 47 points on a dismal 28.6 percent shooting. The starters were the problem — they were held to just 6-of-34 shooting.
“We wanted to protect the 3,” Bluder said. “We felt [UNI was] a good 3-point-shooting team, and we did an OK job of that. We gave up too many long offensive boards and need to do a better job on box-outs on 3-point shots that will have long rebounds.”
Iowa fans held their breath in the second quarter when Tania Davis went down with an injury.
Hawkeye fans were able to release that breath after she returned to the bench on her own power, and Bluder said afterword she wasn’t sure if the injury was trouble.
“We don’t think it is anything serious, but we’ll re-evaluate it when we get to Iowa City,” Bluder said. “We had bad visions going through our minds when that happened.”
[Update Dec. 18]: Davis will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.]
The injury provided a bit of a scare for the team, but Iowa bounced back from the mini-nightmare.
“Being able to regroup, especially after seeing Tania fall down again,” Gustafson said. “That was tough. Being able to step back from everything, relax — a lot of us were forcing things and going too fast. Being able to take a step back, look at what we needed to fix, and fix it.”
Against the Division 1 in-state opponents, Iowa is 2-0 and is one win away from sweeping the series against their in-state rivals.
The Hawkeyes can claim the crown of best women’s basketball team in the state at 7 p.m. Thursday, when they take on Drake in Carver-Hawkeye.