By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Surprised and blindsided were two words thrown around after the University of Iowa thumped Northern Iowa, 88-39, on Sunday in women’s basketball on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder was surprised by the margin of victory; Northern Iowa head coach Tanya Warren felt “blindsided as can be” after the Hawkeyes won by 49 points to improve to 20-2 all-time against the Panthers, 10-1 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Simply put, one team made its shots, the other did not. Iowa shot a season-high 60.7-percent from the field (34-of-56) and 68.8-percent from 3-point range (11-of-16), while UNI was held to 21-percent shooting from the field (13-of-62) and 14.8 -percent from distance (4-of-27).
The coaches had contrasting views of the result.
“It was our best all-around performance of the year as far as being able to start the game under control,” Bluder said. “We took control of the game early, both offensively and defensively.”
“We could be playing my 2-year-old nephew and if we don’t shoot the basketball better, we’re not going to win or be successful,” Warren said.
Iowa improved to 6-3 and UNI fell to 4-4. It marks the second time this season the Hawkeyes held an opponent to less than 40 points (Iowa defeated Massachusetts 71-30 on Nov. 19).
UI senior Ally Disterhoft scored a game-high 17 points and attempted just seven field goals in 22 minutes. She was 6-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from 3-point range. Disterhoft entered the game 8-of-20 from 3-point range.
“I have been doing a better job of not second-guessing myself on the release and trusting that my teammates are going to get me the ball when I’m open,” she said. “It is the same for me going into every game, stepping up and being ready to shoot those shots when they are open.”
In the last four games Disterhoft is 11-of-15 from distance (73.3 percent).
UI sophomore Megan Gustafson registered her fifth double-double of the season with 17 rebounds and 12 points. At halftime she had 12 rebounds, but just four points.
“In the first half, my shots weren’t falling right away, but I tried to focus on rebounding and trying to get my teammates open,” said Gustafson, who was 1-of-5 from the field at the break. “Once I got into the flow of it, it worked a lot better.”
It was also the most balanced offensive effort for the Hawkeyes. Disterhoft and Gustfason were the only two to score in double figures, but 10 other players scored points, nine of them with at least two field goals.
“It’s nice to see other people getting into the offense,” Bluder said. “Bre (Cera), Makenzie (Meyer) and Chase (Coley). Look at all the people we had at seven points and nine points. That’s the balance that we’re looking for with our team.”
Meyer scored nine points and pulled down six rebounds. Kathleen Doyle, Cera, Coley, and Hannah Stewart scored seven points apiece.
Iowa was plus-20 in rebounding (47-27). Gustafson led the way with 17 and she was followed by Meyer and Stewart with six and Coley with five. Six Hawkeyes combined to block nine shots, led by Gustafson with four.
Sophomore Tania Davis scored six points with four assists and senior Alexa Kastanek scored five points with three assists and three steals in 15 minutes.
Doyle sank a 3-point field goal 27 seconds in and the rout was on. Iowa made 10-of-16 field goals in the first quarter (62.5 percent) and 14-of-26 for the first half (53.8 percent) to grab a 40-17 lead. The Hawkeyes were 7-of-11 from distance.
“You have to give Iowa credit, Iowa played terrific,” Warren said. “This is the best game I have seen and I have watched quite a bit of film on them. They were clicking on both ends of the floor.”
Disterhoft was especially proficient, scoring 12 points by halftime on 4-of-5 shooting from the field. She was 3-for-3 from 3-point range. Coley was 3-of-3 from the field (1-of-1 from 3-point) for seven points.
While Iowa was sinking the majority of its shots, the Hawkeyes were holding Northern Iowa to 19.4 percent from the field in the first half (7-of-36). Iowa held a 26-16 edge on the boards.
Madison Weekly led UNI with 12 points and four steals for the game. She was 5-of- 16 from the field, the rest of the Panthers combined to make 8-of-46 (17.4 percent).
The Hawkeyes host Iowa State on Wednesday in an Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup that tips off at 7 p.m. (CT). Iowa has won four straight games against the Cyclones in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.