By DARREN MILLER
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Conference road wins and double-doubles from Megan Gustafson are two things University of Iowa women’s basketball fans never tire of talking about.
The Hawkeyes checked both those boxes Sunday during a 78-52 win over Ohio State in front of 5,344 in Value Center Arena. No. 16 Iowa has now passed four of seven Big Ten road tests; the Hawkeyes won for an eighth time in nine games and improved to 19-5 overall, 10-3 in the Big Ten. Ohio State is 10-12, 6-7.
Iowa senior center Megan Gustafson tied a Big Ten record by compiling a 77th career double-double with 29 points and 16 rebounds (it was her 22nd double-double of the season). She made 14 of 19 field goals and is now shooting 70.6 percent from the field.
The Hawkeyes converted 69.2 percent from the field in the second half (18 of 26) and 53.4 percent for the game (31 of 58). It is the ninth game in a row that Iowa has made more than 50 percent of its field goals.
Iowa opened both halves with impressive scoring spurts. The Hawkeyes began the game on an 8-0 run, then extended a 12-0 streak by scoring the first seven points of the third quarter.
“It’s always good when you set the tone early and we set the tone early both times out of the locker room,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said.
Ohio State rallied in the second quarter to take a 27-26 lead on a layup by Aaliyah Patty with 2:52 to go in the half. Iowa regained the lead on a field goal by Gustafson before junior guard Kathleen Doyle extended the margin to four with a steal and conventional three-point play.
“We had to rely on our defense (early) and we did a nice job boxing out, getting extra possessions and getting stops,” Gustafson said. “We were able to put the ball in the hoop in the second half.”
The score remained 31-27 at halftime and the Hawkeyes “owned” the second half, 47-25.
“You love to see your team regroup at halftime and a lot of that work is done before (the coaches) even walk into the locker room,” Bluder said. “Your seniors, veterans, captains talking to the kids and getting them under control, getting their composure. We have good leaders and basketball minds on the team like Kathleen and Tania (Davis) — they do such a good job.”
Doyle scored 16 points with six assists. She now has 20 assists in the last three games — Iowa wins over Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State. The Hawkeyes had 22 assists on 31 field goals Sunday.
“We emphasize giving up the good shot to get a great shot,” Gustafson said. “My treammates did a nice job getting the ball into me and if I was doubled, finding somebody else. It worked well and made for a fun game.”
Senior forward Hannah Stewart scored seven points with six rebounds, and four assists in 23 minutes; freshman Monika Czinano added six points and two rebounds in seven minutes.
For a second straight game, Iowa was without junior Makenzie Meyer (knee). In her absence, freshman Tomi Taiwo logged 13 minutes and pulled down a career-high five rebounds. The Hawkeyes were plus-11 on the boards.
Ohio State was led by Dorka Juhasz with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“You come into Ohio State and you lead for almost the entire game…we have had three convincing wins in a row and we’re playing good basketball, two of those have been on the road.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
It was quite a third quarter for the Hawkeyes, who made 12 of 15 field goals. Iowa opened a 21-point lead after 30 minutes of play by out-scoring Ohio State, 27-10, in the third quarter. Gustafson scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting. At the same time, Ohio State was 4 of 15 from the field and 1 of 4 from the line.
Iowa opened a 58-37 lead at the end of the third quarter and the final three points were the result of an impressive sequence. With 13 seconds left in the quarter, Gustafson pulled down a defensive rebound and sent an outlet to Davis. Davis momentarily lost control of the ball and slid on her belly before batting the ball to Stewart. Stewart passed to Alexis Sevillian, who was good from distance for her first field goal of the game.
“It was fun,” Bluder said. “You could just see how excited our team gets and how much joy they have for everybody. When Lexi hit that 3, it was kind of like ‘Bam, this is an exclamation point.'”
The Hawkeyes return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday to face Illinois (10-14, 2-11). Tip-off is 7 p.m. (CT). Iowa defeated the Illini, 94-75, on Jan. 20 in Champaign, Illinois.
Illinois snapped a nine-game losing streak Sunday by defeating Wisconsin, 78-68.
“This is an important week for us,” Bluder said. “We need a good win against Illinois and then keep that rolling against Maryland on (Feb. 17).”