Jan. 10, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A veteran and a newcomer echoed an ultimatum that the University of Iowa women’s basketball team will return to playing “Iowa basketball” when it hits the road Wednesday and Saturday.
The proclamation came after the No. 23 Hawkeyes (12-4 overall, 2-2 Big Ten) dropped a 76-56 decision to No. 8 Maryland (14-2, 3-1) on Sunday in front of 7,776 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The result snapped a 25-game home winning streak for the Hawkeyes, dating to March 25, 2014, against Louisville.
“We need to focus on making smarter passes and making better reads,” said UI junior captain Ally Disterhoft. “We get hurried sometimes and don’t jump stop like we should and then force something. That’s something we can fix and take care and we’re going to do that. We’re going to figure that out.”
Iowa had 16 turnovers in the game (10 in the first half) and eight assists on 21 made field goals.
“We need to take these two losses and add fuel to our fire,” said UI freshman post Megan Gustafson. “We need to get focused for the upcoming week and two big road games. We need to focus on getting back to Iowa basketball: high assist, low turnover.”
Gustafson was making reference to Thursday’s 82-75 loss at Michigan — a game Iowa led by 17 points in the third quarter.
Disterhoft and Gustafson shared team-high scoring honors with 14 against the Terrapins. Gustafson pulled down nine rebounds and Disterhoft added seven…and the Hawkeyes won the rebounding battle (38-37) over a Maryland team that entered the game plus-19.5 in that category.
“I’m proud of our rebounding,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I don’t think anybody could have ever thought that we could out-rebound Maryland. I’m especially proud of the box-outs of our players.”
UI sophomore Whitney Jennings turned in a nice performance, making 5-of-9 field goal attempts with six rebounds, two assists, and two blocked shots.
Maryland led at halftime, 40-30, with both teams shooting 44 percent from the field. The Hawkeyes held a 20-17 edge on the boards, but Maryland countered with 12 more bench points (22 to 10), four more 3-point field goals (5 to 1), and seven fewer turnovers (10 for Iowa, three for the Terrapins). Maryland scored 13 points off turnovers in the first half, compared to two for the Hawkeyes.
Jennings hit three straight baskets for Iowa in the second quarter and had eight points at halftime (4-of-6 from the field). Disterhoft also had eight points and added a team-high six rebounds. Gustafson totaled six points and three rebounds, and senior Kali Peschel added four points and four rebounds.
Field goals by Peschel (9:04) and Jennings (7:46) brought Iowa to within four points early in the second quarter. UI junior Alexa Kastanek scored her first five points within 21 seconds in the third quarter to pull the Hawkeyes within seven points at 42-35. That was as close as they would get the rest of the game.
Iowa shot 38 percent from the field in the game (21-of-55) and 32 percent in the second half. The Hawkeyes were cold from distance, making just 2-of-11, while Maryland converted on 8-of-15 3-pointers.
Maryland also had three players score in double figures: Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (19 points), Brionna Jones (15), and Kristen Confroy (11). Jones — who Bluder said is “probably the best center in the Big Ten” — also had 11 rebounds and four steals.
Sunday’s contest marked a brief homestand for the Hawkeyes, who return to the road at Wisconsin on Wednesday (7 p.m. CT) and at Michigan State on Saturday (3:30 p.m.). Iowa played three games in the last seven days and continue a stretch where it competes five times in 13 days (Jan. 7-20).
“In 16 years I’ve been in the Big Ten, I’ve never been in a stretch where we have five games in (13) days,” Bluder said. “Unbelievable. We never can give our players a day off mentally or physically. They’re having to learn a new scouting report every three days. Of this stretch, three of the five are on the road. We have two road games this week. Three of the four in this stretch are on the road. This is crazy.
“We’re in a tough stretch. But we cannot have a hangover that affects us Wednesday. We’ve got to bounce back.”