Dec. 19, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — For the fourth time this season, the No. 24 University of Iowa women’s basketball team held an opponent under 60 points.
The Hawkeyes improved to 4-0 in those games, adding a 60-53 victory over Bradley on Saturday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa (9-2 overall) is a team that likes to score and score often, validated by its 76.5 points-per-game average entering the game against Bradley (4-5). The Hawkeyes used a strong defensive effort to prevail this time: they won the rebounding battle, 45-40, and held the Braves to 28-percent shooting from the field (9-of-32) in the first half.
“We’re happy with the win and very happy with our defense,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We did a great job defensively. Our rebounding was much better in the second half than it was in the first half.”
The Hawkeyes were out-rebounded 24-23 after 20 minutes, then held a 22-16 edge on the boards in the second half.
Junior Ally Disterhoft led Iowa in scoring with 16 points. She was 4-of-7 form the field (2-of-3 from 3-point) and 6-of-9 from the line with five rebounds. Junior Alexa Kastanek added 11 points. It is just the second time in 11 games that the Hawkeyes had less than three scorers in double figures.
“We need to score better and play consistently,” Bluder said. “We had a nice first and third quarter, but our second and fourth quarters were sub-par. We have to come out and play a 40-minute game.”
In the first and third quarters, the Hawkeyes outscored Bradley, 34-17, by shooting 39 percent from the field and holding the Braves to 25-percent shooting.
Kastanek helped Iowa gain a 14-4 lead in the first quarter by netting seven of her 11 points. She was 3-of-5 from the field, including a 3-point field goal. Freshman Megan Gustafson made the most of her early minutes, pulling down four rebounds and blocking three shots.
When Gustafson made a layup with 35 second left in the third quarter, the Hawkeyes had their largest lead of the game at 46-28. Bradley scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 57-53 with 13 seconds remaining.
It was Iowa’s first game in eight days, but Bluder isn’t blaming a layoff or finals week for a sluggish performance.
“I never anticipate offensive struggles,” she said. “I’m an offensive-minded coach and at the beginning of the game I thought we took some really tough shots. We were penetrating and trying to shoot over the help instead of finding the open player.”
Bradley’s Tamya Sims had four blocked shots in the first quarter. Anneke Schluter was the only Brave to finish the game with double-figure points at 13. She was 3-of-10 from distance.
The Hawkeyes made a change in their starting five for the first time this season. Davis got the nod at point guard in place of sophomore Whitney Jennings. Davis played 23 minutes, Jennings played 24.
“It’s not like Tania has been playing poorly by any means,” Bluder said. “Tania has been playing well, so we feel like we have two very good point guards, and we can go with either one of them, and both of them can play on the floor at the same time, as well.”
Iowa puts its 23-game home winning streak on the line Dec. 22 against in-state rival Drake, which lost at Northern Illinois, 87-73, on Saturday. The Bulldogs opened with six consecutive wins, but have since lost three of four. Drake averages 80.5 points per game.
“We know we will have our hands full against Drake because you have to outscore them,” Bluder said. “They have an excellent offensive team.”
Iowa and the Bulldogs tip off at 5 p.m. (CT) on Tuesday. That will be followed by the Hawkeye men hosting Tennessee Tech at approximately 7:30.