By DARREN MILLER
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — It’s hard beating the Rutgers women’s basketball team once at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Twice in a row is something to write home about.
But three times?
The University of Iowa scored nine consecutive points in overtime and ran away from the Scarlet Knights to win 77-67 in front of 1,852 on Wednesday. It is the sixth straight win for the Hawkeyes (22-6 overall, 10-5 Big Ten) and their third win in a row at The RAC. Junior Megan Gustafson scored five of her team-high 27 points during that 9-0 overtime run and senior Chase Coley added four of her 20 points.
Still, the biggest shot of the game came from sophomore Kathleen Doyle. With :09 remaining, Doyle took a pass from sophomore Makenzie Meyer and drained a 3-point field goal — her second of the game — to knot the score at 59.
“It was a great play by (Makenzie) to find me and I knocked it down, we got a (defensive) stop and headed to overtime,” Doyle said. “We are confident in ourselves when we get to an overtime situation.”
The Hawkeyes led 13-4 at the end of the first period, then survived a disastrous second 10 minutes. In the second quarter, they were out-scored 21-6 and made just 2 of 11 field goals.
“The second quarter? We lost our composure,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We’re going to throw that one away, it’s probably our worst quarter of basketball. But I’ll take it with a fourth quarter and overtime like that.”
The Hawkeyes made 9 of 15 field goals in the fourth quarter and 3 of 6 in overtime. They also made 12 of 13 free throws in overtime. Over the final 15 minutes, Iowa outscored Rutgers, 41-22.
Iowa trailed by 13 points in the third quarter, 11 points in the fourth quarter, and by nine points with 4:05 to play in regulation. The Hawkeyes rallied for a 12-point lead with 14 seconds left in overtime.
Gustafson and Coley were joined in double figures by Doyle (14 points) and Meyer (11 points). Doyle scored 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime; she also had a game-high nine assists.
“Since Tania (Davis) has been out (with a knee injury), Kathleen has accepted the leadership role of this team and really been a very, very good leader,” Bluder said. “She has been composed, brought energy, brought defense against the hardest defensive assignments every single night. And she is handling it and playing her heart out for us.”
Gustafson’s game-high 14 rebounds gave her a double-double for the 25th time this season and 52nd time in her career.
Rutgers (19-10, 7-8) was led by Tyler Scaife with 30 points.
Iowa improved to 3-0 in overtime games this season. The Hawkeyes previously defeated Western Kentucky (104-97 on Nov. 11 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena) and Michigan State (71-68 on Feb. 1 in East Lansing, Michigan).
MEGAN IS NO. 1
Gustafson set two more season records Wednesday. Her 27 points gives her 698 for a season, 26 more than Cindy Haugejorde in 1979-80. Gustafson’s 14 rebounds leave her with 355, a dozen more than she had last season.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“I’m thankful this team kept believing no matter what and just kept staying the course.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
The Hawkeyes made 12 of 13 free throws in overtime when they outscored Rutgers, 18-8.
Iowa, winner of six straight, hosts Indiana (16-12, 9-6), winner on eight in a row, on Saturday at 11 a.m. (CT). It will be Senior Day as the Hawkeyes recognize Coley and Carly Mohns.
“We have two fabulous seniors and these two women deserve it. (Carly) is a picture of courage and perseverance. Chase is the life of the party,” Bluder said.
“I want to have a great crowd and a great Hawkeye victory, but we will need everybody to help us with this because (after playing 45 minutes Wednesday) we will have tired legs.”