By Sean Bock
Senior day was bittersweet on Feb. 24 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Chase Coley and Carly Mohns were able to come out on top, as the Hawkeyes stormed past Indiana, 75-62.
“We sent out Chase and Carly out on a positive note before the Big Ten Tournament, and that was the most important thing for us,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said.
Megan Gustafson was her usual self, pouring in a game-high 36 points and 15 rebounds – her 26th double-double of the season – while converting on 15 of her 21 shots from the field.
The Hawkeyes received plenty of contributions from Makenzie Meyer (13 points), Coley (12 points), Hannah Stewart (10 points), and Kathleen Doyle (6 assists).
Iowa was without the services of redshirt freshman guard Alexis Sevillian, who was out with an illness. The Hawkeyes are used to adjusting on the fly with injuries and prospered without Sevillian.
“We were prepared for it because we’ve been battling injuries and illnesses all year,” Meyer said. “I think the only thing that changed is I had to play a couple more minutes. I think we did a great job of filling in for her [Feb. 24].”
Indiana came into this contest winners of eight straight, but the Black and Gold were able to contain the red-hot Hoosiers thanks to a relentless defensive effort.
Indiana’s two leading scorers, Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, were held to a combined 26 points; they average roughly 36 points per game.
The Hoosiers shot an impressive 13-of-26 (50 percent) from 3-point range, but couldn’t find consistency from inside the arc, as theyt connected on 33 percent of its shot attempts from inside the arc.
“We made other people shoot the ball,” Bluder said on the defensive game plan. “That’s what we wanted to do. We did not want Tyra Buss to take this game over. We knew if were really focusing on [Buss] and Cahill and let someone else try to beat us. I’m proud of our defensive effort [Feb. 24].”
One of the elite 3-point shooting clubs in the country, Iowa seemed to ignore the fact that the deep ball was a thing.
The Hawkeyes only threw up six shots from downtown but couldn’t be tamed down low as it outscored the Hoosiers, 36-16, in paint points.
With the victory, Iowa clinched the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, meaning it has a double bye and will face the winner of the No. 13/12 vs. No. 5 matchup. The game will take place on March 2.
The Hawkeyes are winners of six-straight games and have been playing some of its best basketball at the right time.
A No. 8 seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology, Iowa has a real chance to improve on its current projected ranking with a deep run in the conference tournament next week. A couple of victories could put the Hawkeyes at a No. 6 or No. 5 seed.
“It’s really exciting,” Gustafson said. “February has been a great month for us. I’m really proud of this team that we were able to have a great February, and it gives us a lot of momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament.”