By DARREN MILLER
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — A hot-shooting University of Iowa women’s basketball team won its first Big Ten road game and handed Rutgers its first Big Ten home loss, 71-59, on Tuesday at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
The Hawkeyes improved to 12-7 overall, 3-3 in conference play by shooting a season-high 62.5 percent from the field and making 19 of 24 free throws. Sophomore center Megan Gustafson (7 of 7) and freshman guard Makenzie Meyer (4 of 4) were perfect from the field. Junior forward Chase Coley made 4 of 5 field goals and scored eight points, matching a season high set in the season opener on Nov. 11.
Iowa snapped a six-game conference road losing streak dating to a 79-64 win over Northwestern on Jan. 31, 2016 in Evanston, Illinois.
The Hawkeyes led 29-27 at halftime before extending the lead to 52-39 after three quarters by making all seven field goals in the frame.
“In the third quarter we broke their press with confidence and got high-percentage shots off that,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “They fouled us a lot and we got to the free throw line.”
Gustafson scored a team-high 19 points and was one of three Iowa players to score in double figures. Sophomore guard Tania Davis added 15 points and Meyer had 10. Davis made 9 of 11 free throws with five rebounds, four assists, and four steals. Coley and sophomore Hannah Stewart scored eight points apiece.
“Megan was 7 for 7 from the field and we didn’t give her the ball enough,” Bluder said. “Makenzie Meyer hit our only 3s of the game (two) and Tania Davis really led us down the stretch against that press.”
Iowa made 25 of 40 field goals; Rutgers attempted 32 more field goals (72), making 25 (34.7 percent).
The Hawkeyes scored the final six points and made 11 of 20 field goals in the first half to lead by two. Gustafson and Meyer scored eight points apiece and both were 3 of 3 from the field. Meyer was 2 of 2 from 3-point range.
Bluder praised the play of Coley and Stewart off the bench. The duo combined to make 8 of 12 field goals and pull down five rebounds. Freshman Kathleen Doyle handed out five assists with two steals.
“We grew today,” Bluder said. “We grew during the Maryland game even though it was a loss. We brought that confidence into this game and got our first Big Ten road win and it feels good.”
Senior Ally Disterhoft’s six points moved her past Jaime Printy (1,841) into third place on Iowa’s all-time career scoring list. Disterhoft now has 1,843 career points.
Shrita Parker led Rutgers (6-14, 3-4) with 20 points. The Scarlet Knights grabbed 23 offensive rebounds.
The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday against Minnesota (10-8, 1-4) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. (CT). The Gophers host Illinois on Jan. 18.
“It’s our only meeting against Minnesota and we’ll have a great crowd,” Bluder said. “It’s Girl Scout day and Go Red for Women. We will have a fabulous crowd.”