By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Balancing acts weren’t limited to halftime entertainment Monday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Balance worked well for the 17th-rated University of Iowa women’s basketball team, too.
For a second straight day, the halftime entertainment on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena was an individual who balanced ladders, a bicycle, ironing board, and other objects on his chin. The Hawkeyes countered with balanced offensive production that included four in double figures during a 71-53 victory over Wisconsin.
It is Iowa’s 20th consecutive win over the Badgers.
“We’re harder to guard,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said of the balance. “At the beginning of the game, our guards opened up. (Wisconsin was) really collapsing on Megan and our guards took advantage of it and I love to see that. That was fun in a variety of ways — not only hitting 3s, but also drives to the basket.”
Senior center Megan Gustafson led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but she received plenty of help from her friends. Junior guard Kathleen Doyle added 15 points with seven assists, and three steals, senior forward Hannah Stewart scored 11 points with six rebounds, and two steals, and junior guard Makenzie Meyer had 10 points with five assists and two steals.
Iowa (11-3 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) made 6 of 18 3-point field goals. Doyle was 3 of 6 and Meyer was 2 of 5 from distance.
“It builds confidence and opens things up inside, too,” Doyle said. “(Defenses) have to come out and guard us. We’re all confident shooters and tonight they were falling for us.”
Iowa shot 46 percent from the field (29 of 63) and made 7 of 10 free throws. The Badgers made 41 percent of their field goals (24 of 59) and were 2 of 12 from the line.
Wisconsin (10-6, 1-3) received 22 points and 11 rebounds from freshman forward Imani Lewis.
After dropping their Big Ten opener at Michigan State on Dec. 30, the Hawkeyes held serve at home with back-to-back victories.
“To be able to have these two home wins is important,” Gustafson said. “To have that momentum, especially going into two tough environments at Purdue (Jan. 10) and Minnesota (Jan. 14). I’m excited to keep working and building, especially on defense.”
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“We got off to good starts in both the first and third quarters. We came out of the locker room ready to go both times. I love that we only had 10 turnovers and 23 assists. I thought our defense was pretty good, so that was exciting to see. Kathleen had a nice game shooting the ball and had seven assists and only one turnover and also had three steals so got some offense going with our defense.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Iowa forced 17 turnovers and scored 23 points off the Wisconsin miscues. The Hawkeyes also blocked five shots, giving them 12 in the last two games and 57 for the season (4.1 per game).
Doyle has recorded five-or-more assists in each of the last five games. Also continuing an impressive streak is Gustafson, whose 13th double-double leads the NCAA (she has 68 double-double for her career).
The Hawkeyes play their next two games on the road, beginning with Purdue on Thursday in Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Boilermakers (11-5, 2-1) haven’t played since a 71-70 win over Michigan on Jan. 5.