By DARREN MILLER
EVANSTON, Ill. — With a 70-61 victory over Northwestern on Sunday, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team has reached 20-or-more wins nine times in the last 11 seasons.
The Hawkeyes improved to 20-6 overall, 8-5 in the Big Ten by shooting 57 percent from the field and leading for 37 ½ minutes in front of 1,363 inside Beardsley Gymnasium. Iowa is 4-0 in the month of February.
A strong first quarter gave the Hawkeyes a 21-13 lead after 10 minutes. They made eight of 16 field goals and all four free throws while out-rebounding the Wildcats, 12-7.
“We got off to a great first quarter and that’s four games in a row,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We came out aggressively to start the game.”
Junior center Megan Gustafson scored 25 points with 16 rebounds, marking the 24th time this season she has recorded a double-double. She now has 51 career double-doubles. Gustafson made 10-of-12 field goals and was 5-of-5 from the line.
Two other Hawkeyes scored in double figures: sophomore Kathleen Doyle added 15 points with six assists and four steals and sophomore Makenzie Meyer scored 12 points. Meyer was 5-of-8 from the field and made two 3-point field goals.
“I thought Kathleen did a good job leading us today,” Bluder said. “I liked her game — her defensive effort was outstanding, especially guarding (Northwestern’s) Lindsey Pulliam, who has been very, very good.”
Pulliam was one of three Wildcats to score in double figures with 11 points, but she was limited to 3-of-11 shooting from the field with three turnovers.
Iowa junior Hannah Stewart logged 20 minutes and scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. She swiped three steals.
“I though Hannah Stewart came off the bench and played well,” Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes opened a 16-point lead with 8:17 left in the third quarter. Gustafson’s layup off an assist from senior Chase Coley put Iowa ahead, 41-25. Northwestern would never get closer than nine points the rest of the game.
Northwestern (9-17, 2-10) received a good performance from Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, who scored 17 points with 10 rebounds and eight steals in 25 minutes.
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Bluder called it an odd game because the Hawkeyes attempted just 49 field goals (making 28). Iowa was also 28-of-49 during an 85-45 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 9.
Gustafson moved past Toni Foster (1,606 points from 1989-93) into No. 8 on Iowa’s all-time career scoring list. Gustafson has 1,626 career points.
She also moved to No. 4 on Iowa’s all-time career rebounds list, surpassing Morgan Johnson (886 from 2010-13) and Foster (887). Gustafson has 901 career rebounds.
Iowa moved above .500 in Big Ten road games at 4-3. The Hawkeyes have won their last two away from home (Michigan State and Northwestern).
The Hawkeyes return to action Feb. 18, hosting Wisconsin (9-17, 2-11) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. (CT). The Badgers lost at Nebraska on Sunday, 51-48.
“This is a perfect time for (our team) to rest,” Bluder said. “Next week we have a compressed week with three games in seven days. This week we need to rest, heal, and get everything ready to go into next week.”