Hawkeye women give complete effort at Illinois

Iowa women’s basketball had a complete game in its win over Illinois on Sunday, dominating the paint and shooting lights-out from beyond the arc.


Lily Smith

Iowa forward Megan Gustafson drives to the basket during the Iowa/Michigan women’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, January 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 75-61.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball head coach Lisa Bluder had nothing but praise for her team after its win over Illinois on Sunday afternoon. Only one word really sums up the performance: complete.

Production has been somewhat sporadic for the Hawkeyes this season. Shooters have certainly been ice cold at times, and the paint has been dominated by post players, but rarely has everything worked at one time for the team.

Everything clicked in the victory over Illinois in the most impressive of ways.

Bluder was quick to point out the high-percentage shooting and dominant play in the paint. When all of this is happening, she said, it makes opponents sweat.

“It gives [opponents] something else to worry about,” she said in a release. “If you’re a coach and looking at our stat line, it makes you want to pull your hair out.”

Four Hawkeyes dipped into double-digits in scoring: Megan Gustafson, Tania Davis, Kathleen Doyle, and Hannah Stewart.

Lily Smith
Iowa guard Tania Davis and Michigan during the Iowa/Michigan forward Kayla Robbins fight for possession of the ball women’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, January 17, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 75-61.

Of course, senior Gustafson had another dominant start at center for the Hawkeyes; she tallied a 17th double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds.

The highlight of her day, though, happened from an unfamiliar place: the 3-point line.

The star center had never even attempted a shot from beyond the arc, but she drained a buzzer-beating trey as the first quarter expired.

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It was a fitting moment, and the Hawkeyes were able to get it done from all over the floor.

The team went on to shoot 11-for-22 from the 3-point line. This was largely because of efforts from Davis, who had 19 points and was 3-for-4 from the 3-point line.

The shooting was certainly impressive, but the game was complete because of the effort inside. The Hawkeyes were simply dominant in the paint, outworking Illinois throughout the matchup.

“We did a great job boxing,” Bluder said in a release. “I am proud of our team’s total focus throughout this whole game.”

The Hawkeyes simply destroyed the Illini in the paint. Iowa outrebounded Illinois 38-21 and outscored Illinois in the paint 46-28.

A point of contention for Iowa earlier this season was taking care of the ball. In early season losses to Florida State and Notre Dame, the team committed an excess of turnovers with very few clean assists.

Ball sharing has been much cleaner lately, and the win over Illinois was no exception. The Hawkeyes committed only 11 turnovers to their 24 assists. Guards Makenzie Meyer and Doyle were a big part of this, adding 5 assists to the team’s total.

With a tough matchup against Big Ten-leading Rutgers looming this week, ball security will be a point of focus.

A few Illini had some success despite fierce opposition from the Hawkeyes. Brandi Beasley, one of the Big Ten’s most effective scorers, led Illinois with 21 points. No game is perfect for any team, and Iowa had trouble with Beasley for much of the afternoon.

But Iowa clicked on all cylinders against Illinois. A tough opponent in Rutgers is only a few days away, but if Iowa can remain consistent in all these areas, there aren’t a whole lot of teams that it can’t beat.

“We want to have this [winning streak] snowball,” Bluder said after the team’s win over Michigan last week. “We want to have it keep getting bigger and keep going. We want to get on a roll.”

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