Jan. 28, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
The Hawkeyes executed that plan Thursday with both “bigs” compiling double-doubles in points and rebounds. The result was an 85-69 victory for Iowa, ending a three-game losing streak and avenging a heartbreaking setback to the Wolverines on Jan. 7.
The Hawkeyes improve to 14-7 overall, 4-5 in the Big Ten Conference; Michigan is 11-9, 3-6.
Iowa was 12-2 entering the first meeting with Michigan, but couldn’t hold a 17-point second-half lead in Ann Arbor. The Hawkeyes then went into a 1-5 tailspin, and according to Bluder, thrived on the energy of 3,780 fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena to return to the win column.
“This is a game we needed to have people behind us, coming off what we’ve been coming off,” Bluder said. “I can tell you, it’s a lot more fun coming in here tonight than it’s been the last couple of weeks. So we’re thrilled to get this win.”
Coley scored the first four points of a 10-0 Hawkeye run to close the first half, then scored the first four points of the third quarter. Iowa extended a 42-41 halftime lead to 65-57 with 10 minutes to play. Coley and Gustafson both scored eight points in the third quarter, combining to shoot 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line with eight rebounds and two assists.
“It’s fun to come back and show everyone that’s not the team we are,” Coley said of the 82-75 loss in Ann Arbor. “We showed what we are tonight.”
Iowa trailed by nine points (41-32) with 3:18 left in the second quarter, then rallied for a one-point advantage at the break. Freshman guard Tania Davis paced Iowa through 20 minutes with 14 points (4-of-7 from 3-point), making back-to-back field goals from beyond the arc to close the half. Coley sank four straight free throws to begin the run; she scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half.
“That momentum that we took at the end of the second quarter into the locker room was huge,” Bluder said.
Coley extended the Hawkeyes’ streak to 14-0 by making two straight field goals to open the third quarter. She totaled 21 points with 10 rebounds, making 7-of-9 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws. Gustafson finished with 12 rebounds (six offensive) and 10 points.
Davis scored 18 points with five assists and four 3-point field goals and junior Ally Disterhoft contributed 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
“The big focus for us was a new season, that we were starting over, and we were going to forget about everything that happened up to that point,” Bluder said. “So much of this is mental and our freshmen are growing up, our sophomores are getting more experience, and that’s helpful at this time of year. They’re not babies anymore.”
Thanks primarily to Coley, the Hawkeyes outscored Michigan 33-6 off the bench. UI sophomore Christina Buttenham added six rebounds and five points.
In typical Iowa fashion, the Hawkeyes shot 31 free throws (making 26) and assisted 21 times on 25 field goals. Sophomore Whitney Jennings was 8-of-8 from the line in the fourth quarter and led Iowa with six assists.
“Twenty-one assists, 12 turnovers, I love that,” Bluder said. “Our bench out-scores their bench tremendously, four people in double figures, so all good stuff right there. It’s one game, I understand that. We’re going one game at a time, but hopefully this will get us going down the right path for the last nine games.”
Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty, who entered the game third in the Big Ten in scoring (21.7 points per game), led the Wolverines with 31 points. She had 24 at halftime but was held to seven points (with four fouls) in the second half. Her final field goal attempt — with just over a minute remaining — was rejected by Davis.
“It was great. That never happens, especially to me,” Davis said of the block.
The Hawkeyes close the month of January on Sunday at Northwestern (13-8, 2-7) with a 2 p.m. (CT) tip from Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats dropped a 76-73 decision at Ohio State on Thursday.
“They’re a team that can score a lot of points, just like Michigan, so our defense is going to have to come through for us,” Bluder said. “We’ve always had a great crowd at Northwestern, so hopefully we’ll get a lot of people coming over.”