By DARREN MILLER
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — If you’re scoring at home, the University of Iowa women’s basketball team successfully completed a Monday-Thursday-Sunday triple play this week with Big Ten victories over Minnesota, Michigan, and now Illinois.
The No. 22 Hawkeyes (14-4 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) scored a season-high 31 points in the first quarter and shot 62 percent from the field for the game in a 94-75 win over the Illini in front of 3,019 in State Farm Center.
Iowa senior Megan Gustafson led all players with 27 points and 12 rebounds. After handing out six assists Thursday against Michigan, she took her game beyond the arc against Illinois and made the first 3-point field goal of her career. She was 12 of 14 from the field.
Once again, Gustafson had plenty of help from teammates — especially on the outside. The Hawkeyes were 11 of 22 from 3-point range: senior Tania Davis was 3 of 4, junior Makenzie Meyer was 3 of 6, and junior Kathleen Doyle was 3 of 7.
Iowa was proficient inside the 3-point line as well, making 28 of 41 two-point field goals (68.3 percent).
Davis scored 19 points on 8 of 11 shooting, Doyle scored 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting, and senior Hannah Stewart added 13 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Stewart grabbed six rebounds, five of them on the offensive end.
“It gives (opponents) something else to worry about,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. “If you’re a coach and looking at our stat line, it makes you want to pull your hair out — 24 assists on 39 baskets, 50 percent shooting from 3-point range, 62 percent overall. We did a great job on the offensive boards, we did a great job boxing. I am proud of our team’s total focus throughout this whole game.”
Illinois (9-9, 1-6) was led in scoring by Brandi Beasley with 21 points and Alex Wittinger with 20.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“We came in here and shot the ball really, really well — 62 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range. I love that number. I’m so glad that our shooters are getting into their rhythm again. It is happening at the perfect time.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Iowa was 11 of 22 from 3-point range, its most field goals from distance in a game since hitting 11 against North Carolina Central on Nov. 17. The Hawkeyes were 13 of 28 from beyond the arc Nov. 13 at Western Kentucky.
Gustafson made the first 3-point field goal of her career at Illinois. She has now made 922 field goals as a Hawkeye with 921 coming from two-point range.
Stewart pulled down five offensive rebounds, a season-high for her in that category. In 18 games this season, Stewart has at least one offensive rebound in 16 of them.
The Hawkeyes face Big Ten-leading Rutgers (15-3, 7-0) on Wednesday on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tip-off is 7 p.m. (CT). The Scarlet Knights have won 10 games in a row, including 72-62 over Michigan State on Sunday.
“It’s going to be special,” Bluder said. “Rutgers is having a great turn-around season (from 7-9 in the Big Ten in 2017-18). They are shooting the 3 better than they have been. We have them in Carver-Hawkeye Arena; this is such a great opportunity for us to play the No. 1, undefeated team on our home court and it is our solo meeting.”