By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s basketball team started fast and rolled to its fifth straight victory, defeating Wisconsin, 88-61, Sunday afternoon on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes improved to 21-6 overall and 9-5 in Big Ten play by shooting 56.9 percent from the field and out-rebounding the Badgers, 42-32. Iowa had 24 assists on 33 field goals and had a 46-26 advantage in points in the paint.
“We came out well, we had great energy coming out this game,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. “We started with high energy on both offense and defense and were pushing the ball well. It was a good team effort with high assist team basketball and our defense was good, too.”
Four players reached double figures with junior Megan Gustafson leading the way with 25 points and eight rebounds. Gustafson made 9-of-13 field goals and 7-of-9 free throws, which gives her 151 for the season, breaking Kachine Alexander’s school record.
Redshirt freshman Alexis Sevillian broke through from 3-point range, making a career-high five 3-pointers and finished 7-of-11 from the field, en route to 19 points. Sophomore Kathleen Doyle had 10 points and six assists and junior Hannah Stewart scored 10 points off the bench.
Iowa started fast, jumping out to a 14-4 lead over the game’s first five minutes and led 23-13 at the end of the first quarter. The Hawkeye defense put the clamps on the Badgers in the second quarter, allowing just four field goals and Iowa surged to a 45-23 halftime lead.
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 33 to close out the third quarter and 35 on a Chase Coley jumper with 8:47 remaining. Iowa rested its starters for the final eight minutes.
“It’s a compressed week for us, three games in seven days, for us to have the ability to rest some of those players was nice,” said Bluder.
Wisconsin shot 38.5 percent from the field for the game and committed 18 turnovers. Iowa turned those miscues into 21 points.
“I was happy with our defensive effort,” said Bluder. “I always love it when our defense turns into offense for us, too.”
Gustafson entered Sunday’s game needing 27 points to break Iowa’s single season scoring record, she needed 11 rebounds to break her own single-season rebounds record, and was four free throws from breaking the single-season free throws record.
One for three isn’t bad.
Gustafson made 7-of-9 attempts from the free throw stripe to break the free throws record, but it was the two misses that kept her from breaking the points record in front of the 7,495 in attendance. She finished with 25 points in 26 minutes and had eight rebounds.
PLAYING FOR A CAUSE
Iowa donned its pink sneakers during its annual Pink Game to support Breast Cancer Awareness and players had names of loved ones affected by cancer on their shooting shirts. It was more than a game.
“We played for something bigger than ourselves today,” said Sevillian. “I think that gave us a little extra drive.”
“I want to thank the crowd for coming out, we had 7,500 people here for our pink game and that’s something special for us,” said Bluder. “The Pink Game is more than wearing pink shoes; it means something to our team.
“For us to be introduced with the survivors, that means something for our players. This is a game we took personally and we wanted to play, not only for Iowa, but for other people as well. I am glad that our team represented that well.”
The Hawkeyes return to action Wednesday, traveling to Piscataway for a 6 p.m. (CT) matchup against Rutgers before closing out the regular season Saturday against Indiana in its home finale.
“We have Wednesday and Saturday, two really big games,” said Gustafson. “We have to keep having that focus and energy.”