By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It takes two or three possessions for University of Iowa senior Megan Gustafson to figure out what defenses are trying to do to slow her down.
That’s where patience becomes a virtue for the 6-foot-3 All-American center.
Gustafson made her first basket nearly eight minutes into Sunday’s game against Northern Iowa, then exploded for her ninth double-double during the Hawkeyes’ 83-57 win in front of a season-high 6,860 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Gustafson had 12 points and 10 rebounds at halftime and finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
“We try to figure out what they are trying to do against me, so it’s important for me to be patient and not force anything,” said Gustafson, who made 11 of 14 field goal attempts. “I was able to get open looks for my teammates (early) and that was able to open up things inside and I was able to go to work.”
No. 16 Iowa (8-2) won its fourth consecutive game; UNI is 5-4.
The Hawkeyes shot 53 percent from the field (32 of 60) with 44 paint points. They also took care of business from the perimeter, making 7 of 14 from 3-point range, the first time in a month that they have made 50 percent from distance.
“I like that we found our 3-point shooting,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “Life is a little easier when that happens.”
Four Hawkeyes made 3-point goals: senior Tania Davis (2 of 3), junior Kathleen Doyle (2 of 4), and sophomore Alexis Sevillian (2 of 2) made two apiece and junior Makenzie Meyer was 1 of 3. Iowa was 1 of 14 from beyond the arc against Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on Dec. 8.
Iowa led, 25-24, after UNI’s Karli Rucker made a jump shot in the paint with 4:28 left in the second quarter. Not only did the Hawkeyes hold UNI scoreless the rest of the half, but they went on a 10-0 run to lead at the break, 35-24. Iowa opened the second half on an 8-2 run.
“We had good momentum going into halftime,” Bluder said. “I thought we had good clock management at the end of the quarters. The third quarter was both ends — defensively and offensively — we got it going and that was fun and put it out of reach.”
Three Hawkeyes joined Gustafson with double figures in points. Doyle scored 13 points with seven assists, Davis scored 10 points, and senior Hannah Stewart scored 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Iowa committed a season-low eight turnovers.
Rucker led the Panthers in scoring with 16 points. She also handed our four assists.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“I want to start by thanking the crowd that came out today. This was a season-high (6,860) for us for attendance and we really appreciate everybody coming out to support us. These in-state games are important, they’re fun, and it was nice to get this second victory in this in-state rivalry season.”
The Hawkeyes defeated Iowa State, 73-70, on Dec. 5 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
NORTHERN IOWA COACH TANYA WARREN ON GUSTAFSON
“She is one of the best, she is an All-American. She is extremely efficient, she has great footwork, she is one of the best I have seen in my 24 years of coaching at this level. Iowa does a tremendous job in terms of developing their post players and (Gustafson) definitely is one of the best.”
Doyle made her first start of the season after starting 57 of 64 games as a freshman and sophomore. She missed Iowa’s first seven games with a broken hand.
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Iowa committed eight turnovers, its lowest total since having seven at Illinois on Jan. 7, 2018.
The Hawkeyes conclude their nonconference slate by taking on Drake (8-3) on Dec. 21 in the Knapp Center in Des Moines, Iowa. For Iowa, it will be the third and final game against in-state opponents this season. The Bulldogs lost, 86-81, at Iowa State on Sunday.