By DARREN MILLER
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Freshman Alexis Sevillian came off the bench for the first time in five outings and led the University of Iowa women’s basketball team with 21 points Saturday during a 74-61 victory over previously unbeaten Elon (5-1).
It was the third and final game for the Hawkeyes at the Puerto Rico Challenge at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Iowa finished 3-0 in the tournament and starts a season with seven straight wins for the first time since 2010.
The Hawkeyes led 33-23 at halftime, holding Elon to eight points in the first quarter and 15 in the second.
“We had great energy to start this game, especially on the defensive end,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We boxed out well in the first half; in the second half we struggled. It’s hard to box them out, (Elon) is a great rebounding team.”
Both teams had 14 boards in the first half; Elon finished the game with a 48-47 edge. The Phoenix pulled down 24 offensive rebounds.
Iowa sophomore Kathleen Doyle returned to the starting lineup, allowing Sevillian to provide a boost off the bench. She made 7 of 11 field goals and 5 of 6 from 3-point range in 23 minutes. Doyle had a game-high seven assists.
“Lexi Sevillian comes off the bench and has a terrific game,” Bluder said.
Junior center Megan Gustafson made 10 of 16 field goals and finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. She had nine offensive boards.
Senior Chase Coley scored 13 points and junior Hannah Stewart grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
After shooting 39 percent from the field through three quarters, the Hawkeyes finished by making 10 of 15 field goals in the fourth quarter. They shot 45 percent for the game (31 of 69).
“These weren’t road victories but they were neutral victories so that is a step,” Bluder said. “We won at home, we won on neutral court, soon we will have to go on the road in a hostile environment when we go to Ames (on Dec. 6). Getting used to playing outside Carver-Hawkeye Arena is an important thing.”
Ra’Shika White led Elon with 14 points,11 rebounds, and four blocked shots.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“We talked about how this was going to be an important win come March and how this was an important one on our schedule. Elon was in the tournament last year (with 27 victories), Elon was a team that will probably be in the tournament this year. Based on (Elon’s 2016-17 RPI) this was a great win for our program on a neutral court.”
- Iowa has now defeated three teams that were in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
- Gustafson registered her seventh double-double of the season. It is the 34th double-double of her career.
- Sevillian established career high in points and 3-point field goals.
- Stewart registered career-highs in rebounds (nine) and blocked shots (four).
- Iowa handed out 25 assists on 31 made field goals.
After winning three games in the state of Florida, the undefeated Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to host Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 29. Tip-off is 7 p.m. (CT)
“It should be a fabulous game. A great crowd in Carver would help us out,” Bluder said.