By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Frustration? Maybe. Panic? No way.
The 19th-rated University of Iowa women’s basketball team held on for a 77-71 win over Nebraska on Thursday in front of 4,391 on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It snapped a two-game losing streak to the Cornhuskers.
“I like how nobody panicked,” Iowa had coach Lisa Bluder said. “We were frustrated with ourselves at times, but I thought we did a good job of pitching it and moving on to the next thing.”
The Hawkeyes led 69-57 with 4:36 to go after senior forward Hannah Stewart made a jumper outside the lane. Nebraska used a 14-4 run over a three-minute stretch to pull within two points, but Iowa made 4 of 8 free throws over the final 22 seconds to secure the win.
“It seemed like the clock would not go…there wasn’t a lot of flow to the game at times,” Bluder said. “Too many turnovers by both teams, too many fouls by both teams. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we’re not caring about that right now. We got the victory and we’re going to move on.”
It was the first Big Ten win of the season for Iowa (10-3 overall, 1-1 Big Ten), Nebraska fell to 7-7, 2-1.
Iowa senior center Megan Gustafson overcame an off shooting night (for her) to score 28 points with 17 rebounds. She was 11 of 20 from the field and 6 of 10 from the line. Gustafson added five blocked shots and her 2-for-2 effort from the line with :06 remaining accounted for the final points of the game.
“In the first half, I was battling and wasn’t winning, so I knew I needed to pull my game out,” Gustafson said. “I was able to do that in the second half. It’s important in Big Ten play to be able to adjust to whatever comes your way.
“My game mentally has to be ready to go no matter what in the Big Ten. I have a big target on my back right now so I have to be ready for that night after night.”
Three other Hawkeyes scored in double figures: Stewart (14), senior Tania Davis (11), and junior Kathleen Doyle (11). Davis was 2 of 4 from 3-point range and Doyle handed out nine assists. Sophomore guard Alexis Sevillian scored eight points in 13 minutes.
Iowa shot 49.2 percent from the field (30 of 61) and 65 percent from the line (13 of 20). The Hawkeyes held Nebraska to 39 percent shooting from the field (24 of 62). Both teams committed 17 turnovers.
Freshman Leigha Brown scored 20 points in 19 minutes to lead the Cornhuskers.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“I was glad we could learn some good lessons through a win and not have to learn them through a loss. A lot of times you learn lessons through a loss and I was glad we were able to learn these and still win the game.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Nebraska’s bench outscored Iowa, 37-11. The Hawkeyes countered with a 42-24 edge in paint points.
Gustafson’s 28-point, 17-rebound performance gives her an NCAA-leading 12 double-doubles this season. It is the 67th double-double of her career.
“Whatever plan that you have (to guard Gustafson), they have a counter to that plan,” Nebraska head coach Amy Williams said. “If you change your plan then they have another counter to that plan. I feel like no matter what you try to do it is very, very difficult to slow her down. That’s a credit to the work she has put in and the supporting cast she has around her.”
The Hawkeyes remain home Jan. 7 to face Wisconsin (10-5, 1-2) with tip-off set for 7 p.m. It is the only regular-season meeting between the Hawkeyes and Badgers. Wisconsin was also in action Thursday, losing at Penn State, 71-64.