By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The hustle plays came early and often for the University of Iowa women’s basketball team Thursday:
- Hannah Stewart sprinting the length of the court and making a layup after a perfect pass from Kathleen Doyle
- Doyle hitting the deck to swipe the ball from Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell
- Megan Gustafson grabbing an offensive rebound and turning it into a made field goal and a 12-point first-quarter lead for the Hawkeyes.
“There were a lot of hustle plays to begin this game and that set the tempo for all of us,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “When you see your teammate diving on the floor for a loose ball or hustling and making extra effort, it gives you energy.”
It went a long way in giving the Hawkeyes (16-5 overall, 4-4 Big Ten) their second top-25 win of the season, 103-89, over No. 14 Ohio State (16-5, 5-3) in front of 6,012 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It is the first time Iowa has scored more than 100 points in a Big Ten game since defeating Northwestern, 102-99, on Jan. 29, 2015.
The Hawkeyes shot 54 percent from the field for the game (37 of 68) and 61 percent in the first half (22 of 36). Gustafson had 20 points by halftime and finished with a game-high 29. With 2:23 left in the game — and Iowa on top 97-87 — Gustafson collided with Ohio State’s Sierra Calhoun, dropping both players to the floor for several minutes. Gustafson had a bloody nose, but returned to action less than a minute later.
“If I could get hit in the face every time and get a win like that, I would do it. I feel great,” Gustafson said.
“Someone asked me if Megan does anything that continues to amaze me and I said yes,” Bluder said. “She got up after that hit and wanted to go back in the game. I don’t know if I could have done that. I had a headache after watching it; that was quite a collision.”
Although Gustafson’s 12-game consecutive double-double streak ended (she had five rebounds), she received plenty of help from her friends. Doyle was magnificent, scoring a career-high 25 points, making four 3-point field goals, handing out 11 assists, and drawing the bulk of the defensive assignment on Mitchell.
“Kathleen Doyle led us extremely well,” Bluder said. “Her composure was amazing; her defensive effort against Kelsey Mitchell was amazing. Kelsey got 27 points (on 10-of-26 shooting from the field), but she had to work for them and I think she was exhausted by the end of this game.”
Mitchell, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, was 3 of 11 from 3-point and was forced into committing five turnovers.
Chase Coley compiled a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds and in just her second Big Ten game of the season, Makenzie Meyer scored 18 points and made 4-of-6 3-point field goals.
As a team, Iowa was 9-of-17 from distance.
“It opens the inside and let’s us play the way we want to play,” Bluder said. “It spreads the court so much. When (Meyer) hit that first one, I was so happy. Then Doyle hit a bunch for us; it felt so good to get that 3-point shooting back again.”
The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Hawkeyes and sent Ohio State to its third consecutive loss. The Buckeyes shot 41 percent for the game and just 5 of 23 from 3-point.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“That locker room was pretty fun and this team deserves to feel that way. The last two games on the road — basically it is a one-possession game with a minute left and we just couldn’t pull it out. For them to continue to come back to practice and believe and have that positive energy — our practice yesterday was just as up-tempo, they were just as excited to be there as they were the first week of practice. That’s why we came out and played with great energy tonight.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Iowa was 9 of 17 from 3-point, its most in a game since making 11 against Drake on Dec. 21, 2017. In the three games before Thursday, the Hawkeyes were 5 of 37 from distance.
SHARING THE BALL
Talk about playing team basketball: Iowa had 26 assists on 37 made field goals, Ohio State had five assists on 35 made field goals.
- All eight Iowa players that entered the game scored at least two points.
- The win was the first for the Hawkeyes over Ohio State since a 73-65 decision on Feb. 5, 2015, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes remain home Sunday against Nebraska (15-6, 6-2). The Cornhuskers won the first meeting, 74-65, on Jan. 16 in Lincoln, Nebraska. This will be the first time Iowa has played back-to-back home games since Nov. 15 (Northern Illinois) and Nov. 19 (Western Michigan).
“We just played there a week ago, so we know them, it’s fresh in our minds,” Bluder said. “They are playing well, they’re a good basketball team. We understand how good they are, but we’re looking forward to playing them again.”