By DARREN MILLER
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The No. 25 University of Iowa women’s basketball team shot 52 percent from the field and rolled to its 11th victory of the season, 71-47, over Northern Iowa on Sunday in front of 3,008 in the McLeod Center.
The Hawkeyes (11-1 overall) are 4-0 in the month of December; Northern Iowa falls to 3-7.
Iowa junior Megan Gustafson compiled her 11th double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 rebounds. She made 11 of 15 field goal attempts. Freshman Alexis Sevillian was a perfect 3 for 3 from the field and 2 of 2 from the line and finished with 11 points and five rebounds. All three of her field goals were 3-pointers.
Sevillian wasn’t the only Hawkeye handing out assists: sophomore Kathleen Doyle had a game-high seven.
Iowa never trailed and led by as many as 26 points late in the game, but at halftime the Hawkeyes’ lead was 28-24.
“Our team played a good second half,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “UNI was excellent in the first half, they got to us; our team lost its composure when Tania went down. That was stressful for all of us. We regrouped at halftime and came out and played a lot better basketball and shot the ball a lot better.”
Junior guard Tania Davis went down with an apparent injury in the second quarter and did not return after playing 10 minutes. Davis returned to the bench under her own power and placed ice on her left knee (non-surgically repaired knee).
“We don’t think it is anything serious, but we’ll re-evaluate it when we get to Iowa City,” Bluder said. “We had bad visions going through our minds when that happened.”
The Hawkeyes outscored Northern Iowa, 43-23, in the second half with Gustafson scoring 14 points. For the game, Iowa had 40 points in the paint (compared to UNI’s 12).
“Being able to regroup, especially after seeing Tania fall down again,” Gustafson said. “That was tough. Being able to step back from everything, relax; a lot of us were forcing things and going too fast. Being able to take a step back, look at what we needed to fix and fix it.”
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“We wanted to protect the 3. We felt (UNI was) a good 3-point shooting team and we did an OK job of that. We gave up too many long offensive boards and need to do a better job on box-outs on 3-point shots that will have long rebounds.”
Iowa held a 42-33 edge in rebounding, but the Panthers collected 15 offensive rebounds. UNI was 8 of 30 from 3-point range.
Sunday’s victory is Iowa’s fifth this season over a program that qualified for the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The other wins have come against Quinnipiac, Western Kentucky, Elon, and Iowa State.
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
One team (Iowa) shot well from the field, the other (Northern Iowa) did not. The Hawkeyes made 28 of 54 field goal attempts (51.9 percent) and held UNI to 18 of 63 shooting (28.6 percent).
Gustafson led the way for all shooters, making 11 of 15 field goals; for the season she has made 109 of 155 attempts (70.3 percent). Sevillian attempted just three field goals and made them all from beyond the arc.
- Iowa improved to 11-1 on the season, marking its best start since 2010-11 (12-1).
- Gustafson has scored 20 or more points six times this season.
The Hawkeyes seek a sweep of in-state rivals Thursday when the Drake Bulldogs make a visit to Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Drake (5-6), an NCAA qualifier last season, lost to South Dakota State, 85-78, on Sunday.
“It’s an important game because (a win) would wrap up the state championship, which is a goal for us,” Bluder said. “We want to get them on our home court; it’s important for us to come out and get a win against another (NCAA) tournament team. We want to wrap this nonconference season up the right way.”