By DARREN MILLER
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team plays just three true road games prior to January and the Hawkeyes passed their first test Wednesday with a 75-60 victory against North Dakota in the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
The Hawkeyes improve to 3-0 overall, while North Dakota falls to 0-3. The Fighting Hawks entered the game averaging 85.5 points per game and Iowa held them nearly 26 points below average.
The score was tied at 42 when UI junior Christina Buttenham scored with 4:58 left in the third period to put Iowa up for good.
“It was a great road win,” UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. “This North Dakota team has an 82 percent win ratio at home and when they tied the game at (42), we answered. We kept our composure and did a good job. We got to the free throw line a lot. Our defense was decent — North Dakota is a high-scoring team and we held them to 31 percent shooting from the field. All in all it was a good road victory.”
Iowa made 25-of-53 field goals (47. 2 percent) and 24-of-31 free throws (77.4 percent). North Dakota was 20-of-65 from the field (30.8) and 15-of-20 from the line (75.0).
UI senior Ally Disterhoft paced all players with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field and 8-of-12 from the line. Sophomore Megan Gustafson scored 12 points with a team-high six rebounds and freshman Kathleen Doyle added 11 points with three steals. Gustafson was 6-of-6 from the free throw line and Doyle was 5-of-6.
“We knew they would be a tough team, but I thought we did a great job coming out from the get-go, withstanding a few runs and holding them well below their scoring average,” Disterhoft said. “It’s nice to see resiliency on behalf of our team.”
UI sophomore Hannah Stewart, a native of Minot, North Dakota, played 17 minutes, scoring eight points with four rebounds and two blocked shots.
“We came here to win and everyone played hard,” said Stewart, who had a large cheering section in attendance. “A lot of people showed up and it means a lot to me. This is my home state and I’m glad they were able to come support.”
The Hawkeyes led 40-31 at halftime behind nine points from Disterhoft, eight from Stewart, and seven from sophomore Tania Davis. Iowa shot 51.7 percent from the field (15-of-29) and held North Dakota to 35.5 percent shooting (11-of-31).
North Dakota was led in scoring by Makailah Dyer and Fallyn Freije with 14 points apiece.
Up next is the annual Hawkeye Challenge from Nov. 19-20 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa takes on Massachusetts on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (CT) and either Montana or South Dakota State on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Minutewomen are 1-1 on the season.