By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Tania Davis can tell you about silver linings.
Iowa’s sophomore point guard had offseason surgery on her left shoulder, keeping her away from summer scrimmages. But the right-handed shooter still spent hours in the practice gym, launching thousands of shots to become more proficient from outside.
It paid off Wednesday in the biggest game of the year on Mediacom Court in front of 4,579 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Davis made her first five 3-point attempts — Iowa made 13 as a team — and the Hawkeyes defeated Iowa State, 88-76, in the women’s basketball edition of the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. The home team has won the last 10 in the rivalry.
Iowa is 7-3, Iowa State falls to 6-2.
Davis finished with a game-high 23 points, making 7-of-11 field goals (5-of-6 from 3-point) and all four free throw attempts. She didn’t miss from long range until eight minutes remained in the game.
“It’s confidence, but at the same time, the surgery helped me by shooting form shots while I was down and out,” Davis said. “I learned to take my guide hand off the ball more than I did before. The surgery helped me a lot and my confidence is through the roof.”
Iowa State entered the game ranked third in the NCAA in 3-point field goal percentage (64-of-148, 43.2 percent), but missed all eight in first quarter and their first nine of the game. For the game, the Cyclones were 6-of-28 from 3-point and Iowa was 13-of-21. (Iowa’s record for 3-point field goals in a game is 17 against Idaho State in 2013.)
The Hawkeyes made 11-of-16 3-point field goals Sunday during an 88-39 win over Northern Iowa.
“We started the season not shooting the ball well and it was a mystery,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We know how well we shoot the ball, so it was a matter of time. Sometimes it takes confidence, too. Some start falling and then it’s like an avalanche. I’m glad they kept the faith.”
The Hawkeyes grabbed their largest lead at 76-54 with 5:32 remaining when Makenzie Meyer made a field goal. You guessed it, from 3.
“Sometimes this game is eerily simple,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “One team made a lot of shots and the other team didn’t make anything. I don’t think anyone expected (Iowa) would go 13-for-21 from the 3-point line, but when someone makes a shot I’ve seen a lot of games where it is contagious both ways.”
Five Hawkeyes scored in double figures. Kathleen Doyle scored 17, Ally Disterhoft had 14, and Christina Buttenham and Megan Gustafson added 10 apiece. Disterhoft has reached double figures in points in 43 straight games.
“It is awesome to go out as a senior with a W against the biggest in-state rival that there is,” Disterhoft said. “To be able to say it is a Hawkeye state after we beat them on our home floor definitively is awesome. So many people stepped up; it was a huge team win and team basketball is the best basketball and that’s what we saw.”
Gustafson pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds giving her a third-straight double-double and the 15th of her career. Doyle handed out five assists with three steals; Disterhoft had four assists.
Iowa shot 56.9 percent from the field (29-of-51) and Iowa State was held to 38.2-percent shooting (26-of-68). The Hawkeyes held a 22-10 edge in bench points.
Iowa made its final four field goals of the first half to extend the lead to 43-28. Two of those were 3-pointers from Davis and Disterhoft. That finishing flurry followed a 16-1 spurt over a span of 2:57 where Iowa turned a 17-15 deficit into a 31-18 lead.
Davis swished her third 3-pointer of the first half with 0:02 left, giving the Hawkeyes their largest lead at 15 points. Davis led all players with 11 points at the break, making all three of her attempts from distance.
Iowa made 8-of-14 3-point attempts in the first half, Iowa State was 1-of-14.
Buttenham and Doyle came up big in the second quarter when the Hawkeyes went on a 28-16 run. Buttenham was 3-of-3 from the field for seven points and Doyle was 2-of-2 for six points. Both made a 3-pointer. Five Hawkeyes made a 3-point field goal in the first half.
Iowa was nearly perfect in the third quarter. The Hawkeyes made 8-of-8 from the field (4-of-4 from 3) and 4-of-5 from the line. Davis accounted for 10 points in the third quarter.
Iowa concludes its four-game homestand Friday against Robert Morris (4-5). The Colonials are coming off a 59-42 victory over Howard on Dec. 4.