Dec. 22, 2015
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Anyone familiar with the history of a Lisa Bluder-coached University of Iowa women’s basketball team saw a prototype on Mediacom Court on Tuesday.
Six Hawkeyes scored in double figures, there were 21 assists on 28 made field goals, and Iowa attempted 34 free throws.
It added up to an 89-76 victory for the No. 24 Hawkeyes over intrastate rival Drake inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win is the 14th in a row for Iowa in the series that is now tied, 24-24.
“Most coaches dream about having five people in double figures and we have six, including two coming off the bench,” Bluder said. “I was happy about 21 assists, that’s back to Iowa basketball.”
Four of five UI starters scored in double figures: junior Ally Disterhoft (20 points), junior Alexa Kastanek (15), sophomore Chase Coley (11), and freshman Tania Davis (10). Freshman Megan Gustafson and sophomore Whitney Jennings scored 16 and 15 points off the bench.
“This past week we stressed that if we played unselfishly, good things would happen,” Disterhoft said. “We have a great inside game and a great outside game. We focused on having variety in our offense and that’s hard to guard when we have drives and pitches for 3s and it’s hard to guard when we have Chase and Megan working in the post.”
The Hawkeyes complete the nonconference portion with a record of 10-2; Disterhoft is the only UI player to start in the Sweet 16 against Baylor at the end of last season and against Drake on Tuesday.
“The highlight of looking ahead to the future, we’re so young,” Bluder said. “The future looks so bright for our program and that’s exciting.”
Iowa struck early and often from distance in the first quarter. The first four baskets by the Hawkeyes were 3-point goals — two by Kastanek and one each from Disterhoft and Jennings. Iowa led, 21-15, after the first 10 minutes and continued to pour it on, extending the lead to 16 points before halftime.
The Hawkeyes were balanced and proficient prior to the break. They led, 51-35, by shooting 55 percent from the field (18-of-33) and 100 percent from the line (9-of-9). Kastanek, with three 3-pointers, paced Iowa with 11 points, followed by Disterhoft (10), Coley (nine), Gustafson (eight), Davis (six), and Jennings (five).
The Hawkeyes grabbed their largest lead at 62-42 with 3:09 left in the third quarter. Drake (7-4) cut the margin to eight points twice late in the fourth quarter. During the final 10-minute span, Bulldog junior Lizzy Wendell scored 16 of her game-high 35 points.
“She knocks down shots and does a pretty good job of getting out in transition,” Disterhoft said of Wendell. “Their zone sets her up to do that to get out on the break early. She just hits shots, she is a great player.”
Drake started the season with six straight wins, including an opening 74-70 victory against Iowa State and 89-70 at Wisconsin. The Bulldogs have dropped four of their last five. Iowa’s win means there is at least a two-way (Iowa and Iowa State) and possibly a three-way (if Drake defeats Northern Iowa on Jan. 24) tie for the “state championship.”
“That’s better than not having any state championship at all,” Bluder said.
Iowa finished the game by making 14 more free throws (26-12) and grabbing seven more rebounds (46-39) than the Bulldogs. Coley, Disterhoft, and Gustafson all had seven rebounds — five of the boards by Gustafson were offensive. Kastanek handed out seven of Iowa’s 21 assists.
The Hawkeyes open Big Ten Conference play Thursday, Dec. 31, at Nebraska (9-2). They return home Jan. 4 against C. Vivian Stringer-coached Rutgers (9-3). Iowa has won 24 consecutive games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.