Fast Start Carries Iowa to Season Opening Win

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Within 93 seconds of the Oral Roberts-Iowa women’s basketball game Friday, the No. 13 Hawkeyes scored on a fast break by senior Hannah Stewart, a field goal in the low post by senior Megan Gustafson, and a 3-point field goal from junior Makenzie Meyer.
Welcome to the 2018-19 season, where points can come quickly and in flurries…and from a variety of contributors.
The Hawkeyes were on fire early, then withstood 12 second-half 3-point field goals to defeat Oral Roberts, 90-77, on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
It was the season opener for Iowa, the Golden Eagles fell to 1-1. It is the 19th consecutive season the Hawkeyes have opened with a victory.
“We’re glad to start the season with a W,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “That is always a nice way to start the year. I thought our first half was very, very good. Offensively and defensively, we did good things.”
The Hawkeyes enjoyed a 28-point lead (43-15) when senior guard Tania Davis made a 3-point field goal off an assist from Meyer with 4:36 left in the first half.
Gustafson led Iowa in scoring (23 points), rebounding (17), assists (six), and blocked shots (four). She made 11-of-18 field goals and grabbed seven offensive rebounds. Stewart, making her first collegiate start, scored a career-high 19 points with six rebounds, and four assists.
“Having an All-American (Gustafson) on your team is nice for a lot of reasons,” Stewart said. “It is a testament to the kind of player Megan is, knowing she is going to be doubled and she knows, ‘OK, those are assists I am going to get my teammates.'”
Sophomore guard Alexis Sevillian played a game-high 35 minutes and scored 18 points. Meyer added 13 points.
For the game, Iowa shot 55 percent from the field (33-of-60), 54 percent from 3-point (7-of-13), and 77 percent from the line (17-of-22). The Hawkeyes were plus-20 in rebounding and plus-nine in assists.
Oral Roberts senior Lakota Beatty was 7-of-13 from distance and led all scorers with 26 points.
“We have to keep the intensity the whole game, even when we have a lead. That is something we need to work on.”
Oral Roberts scored 54 second-half points and outscored the Hawkeyes by 13 over the final 20 minutes.
Iowa led 49-23 at halftime and 10 Hawkeyes saw at least three minutes of action in the first half. Iowa reserves played 28:27 in the first half, but that number dipped to 19:06 in the second half.
“I wish we could have kept going with that throughout the game,” Bluder said of the first-half bench minutes. “We played our starting five a few too many minutes. We don’t want to do that, especially with Tania this time of year.”
Davis, who has returned after a second ACL injury, played 29 minutes and scored nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point range. 
Oral Roberts was sixth out eight Summit League teams last season, making an average of 6.1 3-point field goals per game. The Golden Eagles were 4-of-20 from distance in the first half against Iowa and 12-of-18 in the second half.
“In the second half we didn’t bring the energy we did in the first half,” Bluder said. “We let them get back into the game with their 3-point shooting.”
The Hawkeyes will take an early road trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Nov. 13 to play Western Kentucky. The Lady Toppers are 0-2 with losses to Louisville and Oklahoma.