The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s hoops takes care of Samford

Iowa+forward+Hannah+Stewart+drives+to+the+hoop+during+the+Iowa%2FSamford+basketball+game+at+Carver-Hawkeye+Arena+on+Sunday%2C+Dec.+3%2C+2017.+The+Hawkeyes+defeated+the+Bulldogs%2C+80-59.+%28Lily+Smith%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Iowa forward Hannah Stewart drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Samford basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 80-59. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa forward Hannah Stewart drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Samford basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 80-59. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lily

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Lily

Iowa forward Hannah Stewart drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Samford basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 80-59. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Sean Bock, [email protected]

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This game was a lot closer than it should have been for three quarters.

Iowa came out on top against Samford, 80-59, Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye, but it was not the best performance from Lisa Bluder’s squad.

“I was kind of concerned about this game,” Bluder said. “Being between Florida State and Iowa State, I thought it was an easy game for them to lose their attention. I wasn’t thrilled with our first-half performance, and the team heard about it at halftime. It was the first time they’ve really been challenged at halftime, and they responded.”

Much like the Florida State contest, the Hawkeyes shot lights-out from the field, a 62-percent clip in the first half, but they cooled off in the second half at 47 percent.

The turnover numbers also had an effect on the offensive flow as Iowa turned the ball over nine times in the first half, but only 5 turnovers in the last two quarters made for a substantial difference.

Megan Gustafson was her usual self with 18 points and 11 rebounds, her eighth double-double of the season.

But the real story of the game was Hannah Stewart, who finished with a career-high 17 points.

“I wasn’t really happy with my offensive performance against Florida State,” Stewart said. “I tried not to let it get to my head, and I don’t go into the game thinking I need to get points because we have four or five other post players who can score.”

RELATED: Hawkeyes seek to turn down turnovers against Samford

Kathleen Doyle played her best game since coming back from an ankle injury, picking up 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists while turning the ball over only twice.

After a tough loss to the Seminoles on Nov. 29, the Hawkeyes put that game in the rearview mirror and focused on getting the victory against a pesky Samford squad.

“We talk about [how] we need to celebrate the small victories as well as the big ones,” Doyle said. “If we accumulate enough of those small wins like one of these today at home, it really helps us gain confidence to get those big wins later on in the season.”

The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to single digits at one point in the second half, but the Hawkeyes used a 17-0 run to catch a little bit of breathing room.

“I think we shifted up our defense at that point,” Bluder said. “We did a much better job on defense, especially in the fourth quarter. Therefore, I think it was more of adjusting our defense than our offense.”

Guard Hannah Nichols and forward Olivia Crozier led Samford with 14 points a piece.

Iowa’s (8-1) next matchup will be in Ames against Iowa State on Wednesday 6 — a game that’s sure to have a lot of emotion from both teams.

“We’re very excited to go in and try and get a win there,” Stewart said. “It’s a very tough place to play, but it would be a very fun place to win.”

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