By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Experience, you can’t teach it.
That’s how Drake head coach Jennie Baranczyk summed up the difference between a University of Iowa women’s basketball team from 2016-17 and the one her Bulldogs lost to Thursday, 79-66, in front of 4,847 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Even though the Hawkeyes (12-1 overall) have just one senior (Chase Coley) in the starting lineup, the growth of junior Megan Gustafson, and sophomores Makenzie Meyer and Kathleen Doyle is evident. Gustafson led the way Thursday with 27 points and 12 rebounds and Meyer established a career-high with five made 3-pointers and tied a career-high with 21 points. She also handed out a game-high seven assists. Doyle added eight points, six assists, and six rebounds.
“Iowa played spirited,” said Baranczyk, a four-time letterwinner for the Hawkeyes from 2000-04. “They’re older, disciplined, and they know what they’re looking for.”
More times than not, Iowa looks for Gustafson, who made 11 of 17 field goals and added four blocked shots and two steals.
“Footwork is important when they are collapsing inside the paint,” Gustafson said. “I try to get positioning and time my seals, that’s important, too. Being able to time everything before I get the ball is what has helped me inside.”
Iowa led for all but 40 seconds and the Hawkeyes made things extremely difficult on Drake (5-7) during the second quarter. Iowa outscored the Bulldogs, 25-12, by shooting 53 percent from the field (9 of 17) and 83 percent from 3-point (5 of 6).
“That second quarter was as good of basketball as we played this year,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought we got our transition game going. Defensively, we were contesting shots.”
The Hawkeyes finished by shooting 48 percent from the field; Drake shot 31 percent from the field and was just 8 of 39 from beyond the arc.
Iowa freshman Alexis Sevillian scored 12 points, the ninth time she has scored in double figures this season. Becca Hittner paced Drake with 27 points.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“It feels good. I think we have had a good nonconference season, going 12-1 with our loss being by one point to a top 15 team in America. We are state champs and we’re happy about that.”
A TANIA-LIKE FLOOR GAME
Point guard Tania Davis, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL, was leading Iowa in assists, averaging 5.2 per game. Three Hawkeyes picked up a bulk of that distribution slack: Meyer had seven assists, and Kathleen Doyle and Amanda Ollinger had six apiece. Iowa dished off 25 assists on 30 made field goals.
STATISTICS OF THE GAME
The one that draws the ire of Bluder is 27 offensive rebounds for Drake. But she has to be happy with her team making 11 3-point field goals on 22 attempts.
- Iowa’s 12-1 record matches its best start since 2010-11.
- Gustafson registered her NCAA-leading 12th double-double of the season. It marked the 39th double-double of her career.
- Gustafson has scored 20-or-more points seven times this season.
- Iowa shot a season-high 50 percent from 3-point range.
- Iowa has defeated six teams — Quinnipiac, Western Kentucky, Elon, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, and Drake — that made the NCAA Tournament in 2017.
- The Hawkeyes evened the all-time series with Drake at 25-25. Iowa is 15-2 against the Bulldogs in the Lisa Bluder era.
- The win marked the first state sweep for the Hawkeyes since 2014-15.
The Hawkeyes open Big Ten Conference play on Dec. 28 at Wisconsin. The Badgers are 7-6 overall.