By JAMES ALLAN
MINNEAPOLIS — Three Hawkeyes reached double figures, but the 20th-ranked University of Iowa women’s basketball team was on the wrong end of a 77-72 defeat at Minnesota on Sunday afternoon at Williams Arena.
The Hawkeyes shot 44.4 percent — compared to 39.2 percent for the Gophers — but Minnesota took advantage of its second-chance opportunities. The Gophers had 18 offensive rebounds that they turned into 17 points.
Iowa limited Minnesota to four 3-point field goals — six below its season average — but Iowa only made two 3-pointers, finishing 2-of-14. The Gophers made one more field goal (29 to 28), including two more 3-pointers in the game.
“We gave up too many offensive boards,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. “Sometimes it is hard to box out in the zone, but we gave up 13 offensive rebounds in the first half and five in the second half, so we did a much better job in seconds half.
“We did a good job on their 3-point shooters, this is one of the top 10 3-point shooting teams in America. We did a good job of our game plan, but not boxing out was the difference.”
Minnesota took a 56-52 lead into the fourth quarter and stretched its lead to eight points on four different occasions. Trailing 66-58 with 6:24 remaining, Iowa made it a game with nine unanswered points to take a 67-66 lead.
Senior Chase Coley and junior Hannah Stewart started the run with jumpers and a Megan Gustafson three-point play cut the deficit to 66-64. Sophomore Kathleen Doyle’s field goal gave the Hawkeyes a lead with 2:53 left. It was Iowa’s first lead since early in the third quarter.
“Our kids fought the whole time,” said Bluder. “We did a better job of running our offense; we just didn’t convert when we needed to.”
Minnesota regained the lead on two Kenisha Bell free throws before Amanda Ollinger made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 68. Taiye Bello’s field goal put the Gophers back on top and Minnesota led 73-69 with 24 seconds left.
Doyle’s 3-pointer gave Iowa a chance, cutting the lead to 73-72 with 19 seconds to play, but Iowa turned the ball over down three, essentially ending any hope at the road victory.
“We had a chance, we were down three and were running a 3-point play, but unfortunately we turn the ball over,” said Bluder. “With nine seconds left we had a chance to tie this game and send it into overtime. That’s what you want on the road to have that opportunity to win and we had that.”
It was one of 16 Iowa turnovers, compared to 15 for Minnesota. The Hawkeyes had 20 assists from seven different players.
Doyle paced the Hawkeyes with 21 points, making 7-of-14 field goals and Iowa’s only two 3-pointers. Gustafson posted a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Stewart added 12 points. It was Gustafson’s 19th double-double this season.
Iowa led 20-19 following the first quarter and 38-37 at the break after shooting 51.6 percent in the first half. Doyle scored 13 of her 21 points in the opening 20 minutes.
The Gophers had five players reach double figures with Bell leading the way with 21 points.
WELCOME BACK MAKENZIE
Sophomore Makenzie Meyer returned to the starting lineup after missing six games with a broken bone in her left hand. The guard played all 40 minutes, finishing with four points, four assists, four steals, and three rebounds.
- There were 11 ties and 12 lead changes in the game.
- The Gophers had a 26-17 advantage in bench points.
- Records: Iowa (15-5, 3-4), Minnesota 16-5, 5-3)
The Hawkeyes return home for two straight contests, beginning with a Thursday night matchup against No. 8 Ohio State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It will be nice to be back in Carver,” said Bluder. “We’re struggling right now. We need to get back on a winning trail, but a good win would solve a lot of problems.”