Dec. 6, 2015
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
The 24th-ranked University of Iowa women’s basketball team used crisp, clean execution in the second half, outscoring Robert Morris, 40-22, en route to a 69-50 victory on Sunday afternoon on Mediacom Court.
The win is Iowa’s eighth of the season (8-1) and extends the team’s home winning streak to 22 games.
“It was nice to play in front of our fans, they’re incredible, and we’ve been away from home for 17 days,” said junior Ally Disterhoft. “It was nice to be able to come out and get a good win in front of our fans with a lot of assists and low turnovers. That’s what we were focusing on this week in practice.”
The Hawkeyes led 29-28 at the break after settling in the first half. Iowa shot 36.7 percent over the first two quarters, made 1-of-10 3-pointers, and committed seven turnovers.
In the second half, Iowa got back to playing Hawkeye basketball. The result was a 51.6 field percentage and assists on 11-of-16 second-half field goals. The Hawkeyes shot 44.3 percent for the game (4-of-19 from 3-point range) and had 18 assists to 13 turnovers in the contest.
“We did a much better job of getting high percentage shots in the second half and our shooting percentage went up,” said UI head coach Lisa Bluder. “Our defense was very good throughout. This is a team that averages 75 points per game and we held them to 50.”
Robert Morris cooled off after a fast start, finishing the game with a 30.3 field goal percentage. Iowa was active defensively, tallying six steals — two by Whitney Jennings — and forcing 17 Colonial turnovers.
Disterhoft led Iowa with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while freshman Megan Gustafson finished with 15 points, making 6-of-9 field goals, and grabbed six rebounds. The Hawkeyes had 11 players score and got 33 points from the reserves.
Robert Morris jumped on Iowa early, scoring on its first four trips down the floor to take a 10-0 lead and force an Iowa timeout. The Hawkeyes then started chipping away at the deficit, closing to 12-8 on a Carly Mohns field goal and 16-14 on a Kali Peschel lay-up — the first basket of the second quarter.
Gustafson tied the game at 21 with 5:32 left in the quarter and Iowa took its first lead on a Tania Davis layup with 1:38 left in the first half. Iowa was clinging to a two point lead midway through the third quarter before putting down the clamps.
“We relaxed in the second half and were able to get some looks inside,” said Gustafson.
The Hawkeyes’ best quarter was their last, outscoring Robert Morris, 22-9, in the fourth quarter. Iowa opened up a double-digit lead (51-41) on a Disterhoft layup at the 9:03 mark and the Hawkeyes used a late 11-0 run to break the game open.
“We got much better looks in the second half, going inside to the cutters and Megan inside to get those higher percentage shots,” said Bluder. “We have to do that, especially against a zone defense that spreads out as much as theirs does.”
Iowa (8-1) now has an extra day of preparation before heading to Ames on Friday for an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup at Iowa State.
“We know the importance of this game,” said Bluder. “We know the environment we’re going to be going into. Our young team has to be ready to get ready for that type of environment heading on the road again.”