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By JAMES ALLAN
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The No. 13/12 University of Iowa women’s basketball team started fast and cruised to an 81-61 road victory at Penn State on Sunday afternoon inside the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Hawkeyes improve to 17-5 overall, 8-3 in Big Ten Conference play.
Iowa started the game on a 9-2 run and stretched its lead to 25-15 on a Makenzie Meyer 3-point field goal with four minutes left in the first quarter. The Hawkeyes shot 55.9 percent in the opening quarter to lead 34-24.
The Hawkeyes led 48-31 at the half after holding Penn State to seven second-quarter points. Senior Megan Gustafson scored 20 of her game-high 30 points in the first half and Iowa shot 55.9 percent.
“It was a good first half,” said Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder. “It was a great first quarter. Shots were falling for us, we did a variety of things within our offense, it wasn’t just one thing.”
Iowa led 52-33 with 8:36 left in the third quarter before Penn State used an 11-0 spurt to cut the lead to single digits at 52-44 and 54-46 with 5:53 remaining.
“They cut it to eight and we called a timeout and the team responded with good defense,” said Bluder.
The Hawkeyes stretched the lead back to 19 (70-51) with 40 seconds left in the third quarter and held a 70-55 lead heading to the fourth. Penn State scored the first two field goals in the fourth to trim the lead to 11 before the Hawkeyes rattled off 11 straight to put the game away.
After getting handled on the boards in Friday’s road loss at Michigan, the Hawkeyes redeemed themselves to the tune of a 49-33 rebounding advantage, which included a career-high 14 boards from senior Hannah Stewart.
“I was proud of the way the team responded, especially on the boards,” said Bluder. “Our assists were back up, we had 25 assists. That was good for us, too.”
Iowa assisted on 25 of its 34 field goals and shot 53.1 percent for the game. The Hawkeyes held Penn State to a 33.8 field goal percentage and a 3-for-18 day from 3-point range.
Gustafson made 13-of-18 field goals for her seventh 30-point game of the season. The center also pulled in 11 rebounds (and had five assists) for her 20th double-double of the season and the 75th of her career.
Meyer scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with three of Iowa’s six 3-pointers, and junior Kathleen Doyle had 10 points and six assists.
STAT OF THE GAME
Powered by Gustafson’s 30-point effort, the Hawkeyes dominated the action in the paint. Iowa finished with a 54-20 advantage in points in the paint.
- Iowa limited Penn State to seven points in the second quarter and six points in the fourth. The Nittany Lions had just two fourth quarter field goals.
- The Hawkeyes are in third place in the Big Ten standings, 1 1/2 games back of league-leading Rutgers.
- Iowa is 5-4 on the road this season.
ON THE HORIZON
Iowa returns to action Thursday, hosting No. 22 Michigan State at 8 p.m. (CT) on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Spartans defeated Iowa, 84-70, in the Big Ten opener on Dec. 30 in East Lansing.
“We did not play well, defensively it was a not good performance (at Michigan State),” said Bluder. “Hopefully we can come out and redeem that. We did a good job against Purdue, we lost at their place, but we redeemed ourselves on our home court. We want to even the score against Michigan State.”