By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Third-quarter surges are most enjoyable when you’re doing the surging.
The University of Iowa women’s basketball team trailed Minnesota by seven points in the first half and 36-35 at halftime before going on a tear resulting in an 80-65 victory Saturday in front of 7,191 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes enjoyed a 45-29 run in the second half and grabbed the lead for good when sophomore Megan Gustafson converted a conventional three-point play that put Iowa ahead, 43-41, early in the third quarter. Gustafson scored 11 of her game-high 19 points in the third quarter and registered her 10th double-double of the season before the period ended.
“I have high expectations for myself and I know everybody does on my team,” said Gustafson, who pulled down 12 rebounds. “They believe in me and I believe in them. I’m pretty confident and hopefully that will keep going.”
Gustafson made 8-of-13 field goals and all three free throws to pace four Hawkeyes in double figures. Senior Ally Disterhoft scored 17 points, freshman Kathleen Doyle had 11 (10 in the first half), and sophomore Tania Davis added 10. Disterhoft entered the game shooting 15.6-percent from distance in Big Ten games, but she made three of Iowa’s eight 3-point field goals Saturday.
“You have to keep thinking the next one is going to go in and I’m not going to stop shooting it because I have had a cold streak,” Disterhoft said. “The team has a lot of confidence in me and I’m going to step up and try to score when it’s there, but if it’s not, I’m going to set my teammates up the best I can.”
Talk about setting each other up: the Hawkeyes had 24 assists on 31 made field goals, led by Davis with eight, Doyle with five, and Disterhoft with four.
“I love the high assists, that shows great team work,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “That’s a fun style to play, and our players enjoy that.”
The Hawkeyes committed a season-low 11 turnovers.
The win by Iowa (13-7 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) is significant because it is the only regular-season meeting with Minnesota (11-9, 2-5) this season. It comes after the Hawkeyes outscored Rutgers 23-12 in the third quarter on the road Tuesday en route to a 71-59 win. But it also comes a week after Maryland went on a 28-12 tear in the third quarter to rally past the Hawkeyes, 98-82.
“Coming out with strong effort in that third quarter and giving yourself a cushion going into the fourth quarter is certainly a good thing,” Bluder said.
A fast-paced first quarter featured 12 assists and seven 3-point field goals by both teams and concluded with the Gophers on top, 21-19. Iowa took its first lead (7-5) with 6:54 left in the quarter after back-to-back layups by Doyle with long assists from Davis.
“Seeing the joy on my teammates’ faces when they get out and run and they see the ball go through brings me the most joy,” said Davis who leads the Hawkeyes with 4.2 assists per game.
Minnesota led 36-35 at halftime. Seven Hawkeyes scored in the first 20 minutes, paced by Doyle with 10 points and two steals. She made 4-of-5 field goals.
“Kathleen Doyle kind of led us in the first half,” Bluder said.
Iowa shot 48.4 percent from the field for the game and 51.6 percent in the second half (16-of-31). The Gophers shot 29.4 percent over the final two quarters (10-of-34).
Gadiva Hubbard led Minnesota with 18 points, followed by Carlie Wagner with 16. Jessie Edwards had 14 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Iowa returns to action Sunday, Jan. 29, against No. 3 Maryland (18-1, 6-0). The Terrapins host Rutgers on Jan. 22 and play at Illinois on Jan. 26.
“We have put together four really good team games and that gives us confidence,” Disterhoft said. “We have been making progress all year and we’re playing great team basketball right now. We have a great inside game and we’re developing an outside game. That’s fun to play like that and we want to get better every day.”