By BRANDEE BRITT
BIMINI, Bahamas — Don’t call it a comeback. Actually, go ahead.
The No. 14/12 University of Iowa women’s basketball team trailed by 24 points with 2:10 remaining in the first half before coming back to defeat No. 25/20 West Virginia, 84-81, on Friday evening. The comeback is the largest in Big Ten Conference history. The Hawkeyes bested the previous mark of 21 (Nebraska vs. Creighton on Dec. 6, 2015). It also ties the fifth-largest comeback in DI history.
“I’m so proud of these women,” said Bluder. “When you are down 24 points to a top-25 team and down 19 at half, to come out and play with that much composure in the second half — I’m so proud they were able to handle that mentally.”
After being outscored 31-12 in the second quarter, the Hawkeyes cut the deficit to 14 at the end of the third. Iowa opened the fourth frame with a 12-1 run. Senior Megan Gustafson scored six straight points to begin the quarter, before senior Tania Davis chipped in a layup and junior Makenzie Meyer hit a 3-pointer.
A Gustafson layup and Meyer steal off the inbound play with 3:25 remaining pulled Iowa within four. Iowa took the lead on a pair of Tania Davis free throws with 47 seconds remaining and held on to clinch the come-from-behind victory.
Gustafson scored 17 of her 28 points in the fourth quarter. She shot 8-for-9 from the field and grabbed six rebounds in the final 10 minutes to give Iowa its first win over a ranked opponent since defeating No. 14 Ohio State, 103-89, on Jan. 25, 2018.
QUOTING COACH LISA BLUDER
“At halftime I told them to get their composure. We knew they were going to play physical. We knew we had to get Megan the ball. We have an All-American center and she only had six shots in the first half. That’s not enough. We had to start valuing the ball.”
“Tania Davis led our team so well. She continued to get us to the free throw line.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
The Hawkeyes got to the free throw line 32 times. Iowa shot 84.4 percent (27-for-32) from the line — a season high. Senior Tania Davis made a career-best 13 free throws. She was 13-for-14 from the charity stripe.
- Four Hawkeyes scored in double figures, including Megan Gustafson (28), Makenzie Meyer (20), Tania Davis (15), and Alexis Sevillian (13).
- Gustafson registered her fourth double-double of the season (28 points, 16 rebounds). It is the 59th double-double of her career.
- Makenzie Meyer reached the 20-point mark for the second time this season.
- Iowa outscored West Virginia, 29-12, in the fourth quarter. The Hawkeyes shot 68.8 percent from the field in the final 10 minutes.
Iowa returns to action tomorrow, facing Florida State at 5:45 p.m. (CT) in the Junkanoo Jam Championship. The contest will be streamed live on FloHoops. Live stats are available on the Iowa women’s basketball schedule page on hawkeyesports.com.