By DARREN MILLER
INDIANAPOLIS — Some time, somewhere, University of Iowa junior Kathleen Doyle might have played better during a three-minute stretch.
If it has occurred, there is no way it could have come at a more opportune time than her performance late in Friday’s women’s basketball game that ended with the 10th-rated Hawkeyes on top of Indiana, 70-61, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It started when Doyle drew a charging foul against Hoosier Bendu Yeaney with 3:49 left in the game and Iowa on top, 56-54. Twenty-seven seconds later, Doyle made her first field goal in eight attempts to give the Hawkeyes a two-possession lead. She also: blocked a shot by Grace Berger (2:48), made a 3-point field goal (1:41), and blocked a shot by Ali Patberg (0:51).
“She is a tremendous playmaker,” said Iowa senior All-American Megan Gustafson. “She is someone you can depend on, no matter what, especially on the defensive end. She is getting those steals and bringing that energy to our team.”
For the game, Doyle added a team-high six assists with three of Iowa’s seven blocked shots.
“Kathleen Doyle came through for us in the fourth quarter,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said.
Iowa improved to 24-6 on the season and in the process has defeated all 13 Big Ten opponents. Indiana (20-12) upset the Hawkeyes, 75-73, on Feb. 21 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Gustafson was her usual double-double self against the Hoosiers, scoring 30 points with 17 rebounds, and four blocked shots. It is the 28th double-double of the season (in 30 games) and 83rd for her career (in 129 games).
Megan Meyer was 4-of-9 for 3-point range and finished with 12 points, the most by the junior since she scored 18 at Penn State on Feb. 3. In six minutes, freshman Monika Czinano not only gave Gustafson a needed breather, but she scored four points with a rebound. Senior Hannah Stewart narrowly missed a double-double with 13 rebounds and nine points. She was 4-of-6 from the field.
Iowa trailed twice in the second half, but quickly responded both times. With 1:31 left in the third period and Iowa behind 43-42, Gustafson scored in the paint off an assist from Doyle; with 4:08 left in the game and Iowa down 54-53, Gustafson drew two defenders before passing to senior Tania Davis at the top of the key. Davis made a 3-point field goal and the Hawkeyes led for the duration.
Iowa enjoyed its largest lead at 40-30 at the 6:53 mark of the third quarter when Meyer sank a jumper off an assist from Doyle.
Patberg paced Indiana with 25 points, Berger added 13.
QUOTING COACH BLUDER
“(Indiana) was the only team we didn’t beat in the Big Ten season, so it was important to our kids. The first game is the hardest in a tournament like this, especially when (Indiana) was in here yesterday and kind of used to the environment.”
STATISTIC OF THE GAME
Iowa shot 85 percent from the free throw line, making 11 of 13. Over the final 42 seconds, the Hawkeyes shot 7-of-8 from the line.
Gustafson made 11 of 19 field goals and 8 of 9 free throws for 30 points. It is the 11th time this season that the Big Ten Player of the Year has scored 30-or-more points in a game.
Gustafson also reset her school record for points in a season with 832. She scored 823 in 2017-18.
The Hawkeyes return to the court Saturday to play Rutgers in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m. (CT) in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Iowa defeated Rutgers, 72-66, when the teams met Jan. 23 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.