By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the 16th-ranked University of Iowa women’s basketball team needed a big shot, senior Tania Davis delivered.
Davis hit a step-back 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining to give the Hawkeyes a 73-70 Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series victory over Iowa State on Wednesday night on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa has won three straight over the Cyclones for the first time in 20-plus years.
“(Carleton) gave me too much space, as did the rest of their guards,” said Davis of the game-winning shot over Iowa State’s Bridget Carleton. “We knew they were going to be sagging off all the guards to make that entry pass difficult into the post.
“Coming off that screen, as I backed up, she was in foul trouble. She didn’t want to foul me on the drive, so I got a little bit of daylight and shot over her.”
After Carleton made 1-of-2 free throws with 27 seconds remaining, the Hawkeyes took a timeout with the score tied at 70. Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder wanted her team to take the final shot. The play was designed for senior Hannah Stewart.
“We didn’t think we’d be able to get the ball into Megan (Gustafson),” said Bluder. “We wanted to go to Hannah, she was 7-for-12 (from the field) and was doing a great job. They went into a two-person game and Tania got it from there.”
Davis said she knew the shot was going in.
“I had that feeling,” said Davis. “I have that much confidence and I know the work that I put in, being in the gym by myself, and hitting those step-back shots. It is confidence that I have instilled in myself when no one is looking.”
The Cyclones had a final shot to extend the game following a timeout with 2.6 second left. Iowa keyed on Carleton, leaving freshman Ashley Jones open in the right corner, but the Iowa City native’s shot was off the mark.
The game didn’t look like it was going to need any late-game heroics when Iowa started the night on a 15-6 run and the Hawkeyes took a 21-11 lead into the second quarter. The Cyclones fought back to tie the game at 29 on a Kristin Scott 3-pointer at the 5:17 mark.
The Hawkeyes followed with a 7-0 run and they led 40-36 at the break.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle. Iowa State led by three twice in the third quarter and took a 56-53 advantage into the fourth. Stewart made three consecutive field goals to give Iowa a four-point lead at 62-58 before Madison Wise and Carleton hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Iowa State up 64-62 with 6:15 to play.
The fourth quarter featured four ties and five lead changes. There were 12 ties and 10 lead changes in the game.
“That was a great game, a great game for our sport, and a great game for our state” said Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly. “We did everything we could for as long as we could, but that was a great shot by them. That’s what seniors do.”
The Hawkeyes got a lift from an unlikely source with the return of junior Kathleen Doyle. The guard, who missed Iowa’s first six games with a broken hand, gutted her way to a 29 minute-outing off the bench.
“She had an X-ray Monday morning, but we didn’t get a call from the hand specialist until 4 p.m. Monday,” said Bluder. “She didn’t practice until Tuesday, so she had one practice leading up to this game.”
Doyle entered midway through the first quarter and she found her grove in the second quarter. She hit consecutive field goals — a jumper and 3-pointer to give Iowa a 26-19 lead.
“That was a big confidence boost for us,” said Bluder. “I sent a text Monday (to the players) and it went nuts. They were so excited and that gave us a huge shot of adrenaline.”
Doyle scored a team-high nine points in the first half before finishing with a game-high 22 points, going 7-of-17 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
“I was willing to do anything to help our team win,” said Doyle. “Whether I was fighting through cramps, I knew our team was going to get it done and I was happy to be a part of it.”
A RECORD GOES DOWN
Senior Megan Gustafson grabbed 16 rebounds on a night when she became Iowa’s all-time leader in the category.
“I love rebounding, it’s one of my favorite things,” said Gustafson, who was limited to a season-low 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, but still managed her seventh double-double in eight games. “Being able to be mentioned among the names before me is special.”
The Wisconsin native passed Cindy Haugejorde to break a record that has stood since 1980; she has 1,080 career rebounds.
“To go out breaking the record against Iowa State is special,” said Bluder. “We’re only into game seven and this is a record that stood for 40 years at a program like ours. This is a record that is going to last a long time.”
- Iowa was perfect from the free throw line, making all 15 of its attempts. The Cyclones were 9-for-17.
- The Hawkeyes opened and closed strong. Iowa shot 60 percent in the first quarter (9-of-15) and 57.1 (8-of-14) in the fourth quarter. The team shot 41.3 percent for the game compared to 39.7 percent for Iowa State.
ON THE HORIZON
The Hawkeyes return to action Saturday, hosting IUPUI at 2 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court.