By DARREN MILLER
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Lesson learned.
Four days after surrendering 54 second-half points to Oral Roberts, the No. 13 University of Iowa women’s basketball team smothered Western Kentucky, 104-67, on Tuesday inside E.A. Diddle Arena.
“It was definitely an emphasis, we talked about it the last thing before we left the locker room (at halftime),” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Let’s learn a lesson from the last game and boy, did they ever.”
Iowa (2-0 overall) led the Lady Toppers 50-36 at the break, then kept its foot on the gas and held a scoring advantage of 54-33 over the final 20 minutes.
“They were ready to go in the third quarter and I really liked the energy we brought to the second half versus what we did against Oral Roberts last Friday night,” Bluder said.
Senior Megan Gustafson, at least for one night, elevated her game from fantastic to ridiculous. She was a perfect 13-for-13 from the field, scoring 29 points in 25 minutes. She also had 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
And she wasn’t alone.
The Hawkeyes shot 68.9 percent from the field (42-of-61). Helping pad that total was sophomore Zion Sanders, who was 3-for-3 (all from distance) and senior Hannah Stewart, who was 7-for-8. Stewart scored 14 points in 19 minutes.
This came against a program that hasn’t won fewer than 22 games in a season since 2011-12. It is also Iowa’s largest victory away from Carver-Hawkeye Arena since defeating North Carolina, 106-81, at the Hilton Head Island Super Shootout on Dec. 29, 1989, in Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“It was a tremendous offensive game for sure,” Bluder said.
Junior Makenzie Meyer compiled career-highs with 21 points (5-of-10 from 3-point), eight assists, and seven rebounds.
The Hawkeyes handed out 34 assists, eight by Meyer and sophomore Alexis Sevillian and seven by senior Tania Davis.
Stewart scored 14 points, followed by Sevillian with 11 and Davis and junior Amanda Ollinger with nine apiece.
Western Kentucky (0-3) was paced by Alexis Brewer and Raneem Elgedawy with 14 points. The Lady Toppers shot 35.8 percent from the field.
QUOTING COACH LISA BLUDER
“We got better tonight, it was really nice to see. Our first and third quarters were as good of basketball as we have played all year. What can I say about Megan (Gustafson)? It is just ridiculous.”
STATISTICS OF THE GAME
The Hawkeyes shot 68.9 percent from the field, making 42-of-61. Gustafson was 13-for-13 and Sanders was 3-for-3. Of the 42 field goals, 34 came off assists.
Western Kentucky has averaged 25.7 wins per season since 2012-13. The last time the Lady Toppers lost more than once at home in a season was in 2013-14 when they were 11-3 at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to play North Carolina Central on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Eagles are 0-2 and travel to Winthrop on Nov. 14. It is Iowa’s final home game in the month of November.
“We have to keep it rolling and start getting ready to get better every game,” Bluder said. “That’s our focus — try to get better every single game that we’re on the floor.”