By DARREN MILLER
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Megan Gustafson scored a game-high 21 points and Tania Davis added 14 points and seven assists, but the University of Iowa women’s basketball team fell to Penn State, 71-58, on Tuesday in front of 2,258 in the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Hawkeyes (10-6 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) got off to a fast start, leading 18-13 after the first quarter. Iowa made 8-of-14 field goals and freshman Kathleen Doyle led the way by scoring seven of her 11 points.
“We had been struggling against the zone but we came out and we actually played well against the zone,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Then Penn State went player-to-player and we struggled with that.”
The Nittany Lions improved to 11-4, 1-2 when they extended a 32-31 halftime lead to 51-40 at the start of the fourth quarter.
It was a third quarter to forget for the Hawkeyes, who were 1-of-10 from the field (0-of-6 from 3-point) with six turnovers. The good news came at the free throw line where Davis was 5-of-6 and Gustafson was 2-of-2.
The final 10-minute span was also a microcosm of the game for Iowa when it was 6-of-6 from the line, but 0-of-6 from 3-point. Gustafson scored six points in the fourth quarter, making her only field goal attempt and all four free throw attempts.
“Megan continues to try to carry the load for us and we need other people to step up a little bit,” Bluder said. “I didn’t think our 3-point shooting could get worse, but it has. We’re still turning the ball over way too many times, but at least we shot well from the free throw line, that was good.”
While the Hawkeyes made 14-of-16 from the line, they missed 17-of-19 3-point attempts and turned the ball over 18 times.
Ally Disterhoft, Iowa’s leading scorer, was held to four points on 2-of-9 shooting. Doyle had a game-high four steals.
The Nittany Lions ruled the boards with a 42-30 edge. Penn State shot 42.6 from the field and made seven 3-point field goals. Iowa was 21-of-55 from the field (38.2 percent).
Four Penn State players scored in double figures: Jaida Travascio-Green (16), Amari Carter (13), Teniya Page (11), and Sierra Moore (10). Travascio-Green made 5-of-10 attempts from distance.
Iowa has a week off before starting a two-game homestand against Illinois on Jan. 11. The Hawkeyes host Maryland on Jan. 14.
“This isn’t the way we wanted to start our Big Ten season,” Bluder said. “We will have to do a lot of soul-searching and try to figure out what is going wrong so we can fix it before it is too deep in the year.”