By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a perfect ending to 2017 for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team, thanks to a near-perfect effort from junior center Megan Gustafson.
The No. 21 Hawkeyes (14-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) matched their season-high seven-game winning streak and stayed perfect in Big Ten Conference play with an 82-72 victory over No. 19 Michigan (12-3, 1-1) on Sunday in front of 6,928 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Gustafson, who posted her 14th double-double of the season with 27 points and 11 rebounds, made 8 of 9 field goals and 11 of 11 free throws. She also blocked six shots.
“Megan only has nine attempts on goal and has 27 points,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “How is that physically possible? And she also has a career high in blocks.”
Sophomore guard Kathleen Doyle was more than an adequate complement to Gustafson’s inside game with 23 points and nine assists in 39 minutes.
“I thought Doyle led our team,” Bluder said. “She looked for her offense, but her defense, composure, and focus was good.”
Seniors Chase Coley and Carly Mohns were efficient from the field. Mohns provided 25 quality minutes off the bench, scoring nine points with six rebounds. She was 4 of 4 from the field; Coley scored nine points (all in the second half on 3 of 4 shooting from the field) with five rebounds and four blocked shots.
“I’m so happy for Carly,” Bluder said. “She has been through so many surgeries and so much as a Hawkeye. For her to have that kind of game — she didn’t overdo things and it was her defense — she got deflections, she had two steals.
“(Chase) started out rocky, then she comes out and hits some big buckets. She loves that 15-foot jump shot and people keep giving to her. We’ll let her take it because she loves that shot. She did a good job for us again — she has four blocks.”
Iowa shot 50 percent from the field (29 of 58) and won the rebounding battle, 38-30.
Michigan was led in scoring by Katelynn Flaherty with 24 points.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“It was a pretty happy locker room. We were excited to get this win — a top 25 win, 2-0 in the Big Ten, beating a team that is ranked ahead of us and who beat us last year in our solo meeting. It was an important game for us, especially with our injuries (to guards Tania Davis and Makenzie Meyer) to be able to prove to ourselves that we can do it.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Michigan led 43-42 with 4:34 left in the third quarter, but the Hawkeyes took the lead for good on a 3-point field goal by Mohns less than a minute later. Iowa kept its foot on the gas and closed the final 2:33 of the third quarter on an 8-2 run.
CASHING IN FROM THE LINE
Iowa made all 10 of its free throw attempts over the final 57 seconds of the game. The Hawkeyes were 12 of 14 from the line in the fourth quarter.
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
In the postgame news conference, Bluder referred to Mohns by her nickname, Beef. Mohns said her father called her Beef while she was growing up in Brodhead, Wisconsin.
“When I was young, I liked to eat a lot and a lot of that was beef, so he gave me the nickname Beef,” said Mohns.
- Iowa is now 14-1 on the season, marking its best start since starting 20-1 in 1995-96.
- The victory marked Iowa’s first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 25 Nebraska, 74-65, on March 6, 2015.
- Doyle recorded a career-high with 23 points and registered a career-best nine assists.
- Gustafson had a career-high six blocks.
The Hawkeyes head to No. 14 Maryland on Thursday. The Terrapins (13-2, 2-0) have won 11 consecutive games, including 69-65 at Penn State on Sunday.
“They are a very good basketball team, but beating a top 25 team gives us confidence going against the next top 25 team,” Bluder said. “We played pretty well at Maryland last year and they lost a lot of players. This is a great opportunity for us.”
Maryland defeated Iowa, 100-81, on Jan. 29, 2017, in College Park, Maryland.