By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Senior center Megan Gustafson finished with 32 points (16 in the fourth quarter) and 10 rebounds, leading the No. 16 University of Iowa women’s basketball team to a 72-58 victory over Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) on Saturday in front of 3,571 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa improved to 7-2 and IUPUI fell to 6-3.
“We knew this was going to be a hard-fought game,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “(IUPUI) beat Mississippi at Mississippi, they have a win over (Virginia Commonwealth), it took overtime for Wisconsin to win it (65-64).
“Sometimes you have an emotional letdown after that great victory on (Dec. 5) against Iowa State, but I think our defense the second half was really good. We held them to 25 points and did a better job on the boards in the second half. We got to the free throw line and we converted at the free throw line.”
Iowa led, 48-46, after three quarters, then poured it on in the fourth, outscoring IUPUI, 24-12. Over the final 10 minutes, Gustafson was 4-of-5 from the field and 8-of-10 from the line with three rebounds, a blocked shot, and an assist.
“Going into the fourth quarter I knew we needed to pull away, so I put myself in the best position to be able to score,” Gustafson said. “It’s a two-way street with our guards. If I’m not hitting like that first half (5 of 9), I was able to kick it outside when they double- and triple-teaming me. In the second half, our guards weren’t hitting, so they were relying on me on the inside. There is a lot of trust and confidence that goes into that.”
While Gustafson was 12-of-17 from the field, the rest of the Hawkeyes combined to shoot 33 percent (14 of 42). Senior forward Hannah Stewart scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Iowa collected a season-high 13 steals, four each by senior Tania Davis and junior Kathleen Doyle.
The Hawkeyes outscored IUPUI, 41-25 in the second half and owned a 50-24 advantage in paint points.
IUPUI was led by Holly Hoopingarner with 20 points and Macee Williams with 19 points and eight rebounds.
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
The Hawkeyes overcame 1-of-14 shooting from 3-point range by making 19 of 22 free throws. Gustafson led the way by making 8-of-10 from the line.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“We have a target on our back every time. When you’re a ranked, top 25 team. you have a target on your back and you have to be able to stand up and represent that and defend it.”
Iowa trailed at halftime for the first time in six home games this season. IUPUI led after 20 minutes, but Makenzie Meyer’s 3-point field goal that beat the second quarter buzzer gave the Hawkeyes momentum despite facing a 33-31 deficit.
The Hawkeyes remain home Dec. 16 to take on Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. (CT). The Panthers (5-3) are on a two-game winning streak that began with a 53-40 decision over IUPUI on Nov. 30.