Iowa women rebound against Penn State

No. 13 Iowa women’s basketball struggled in its loss to Michigan on Feb. 1, but the team bounced back to crush Penn State on Sunday afternoon.

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Lily Smith

Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer attempts a layup during the Iowa/Michigan women’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, January 17, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines, 75-61.

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

Megan Gustafson wasn’t the only one rebounding on Feb. 3 in State College, Pennsylvania.

No. 13 Iowa women’s basketball (17-5, 8-3 Big Ten) grabbed a rebound win over Penn State (10-11, 3-7 Big Ten), following a tough loss at Michigan on Feb. 1.

The Hawkeyes had their way with the Nittany Lions in the complete win. Iowa grabbed an early 34-24 lead in the first quarter and never so much as glanced back, eventually putting a 20-point conference win on their season résumé, 81-61.

Forward Hannah Stewart — who has been unstoppable since the team’s win over Rutgers on Jan. 23 — grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds. She and Gustafson gave Penn State a tough contest in the paint, outscoring the Nittany Lions by 34 points down low.

“I was proud of the way the team responded, especially on the boards,” coach Lisa Bluder said in a release.

Guard Makenzie Meyer had struggled to find her shot this season, but she shot 60 percent from the 3-point line and put up 18 points for the Hawkeyes.

This all translated to a commanding day for the team. When it can score from all over the floor, it is nearly impossible to keep up.

Feb. 3 was the nation-leading seventh time Gustafson has posted more than 30 points this season. That, paired with 11 boards, gave her yet another double-double to add to her nation-leading total.

Iowa had a lot of cleaning up to do after its 9-point loss to Michigan on Feb. 1. The Wolverines shocked the Hawkeyes by outrebounding them 44-23. Iowa also struggled to defend the 3-point shot, allowing Michigan to convert 46 percent of its shots behind the arc.

The matchup against Penn State, though, was far cleaner. Iowa turned it around and grabbed 16 more boards than Penn State and held the Nittany Lions to 16.7 percent from 3-point range.

Although Penn State has struggled throughout conference play, there have been bright spots. Forward Alisia Smith — one of the team’s rising leaders — grabbed a team-high 7 boards and tallied 15 points. Especially because she was pitted against arguably the best post players in the Big Ten (if not the country), it gives the Nittany Lion faithful a future to look forward to.

No road wins come easy in the Big Ten. A win against any team in the conference yields momentum, which is something Iowa will need in this stretch of the college-basketball marathon.

A unique opportunity is in front of the Iowa women this week. They look at a rematch against Michigan State, which gave the Hawkeyes a rough loss in the first meeting.

“Defensively, it was a not good performance [at Michigan State],” Bluder said in a release. “Hopefully, we can come out and redeem that.”

The game against Penn State may have awakened up vital parts of the Hawkeye offense just in time for crucial games down this stretch.

Meyer, for example, has lost a lot of her 3-point dominance this season but looked like her old self in State College. Additionally, Stewart gained that career-high number in boards against Penn State.

If Iowa proved anything in the victory, it’s that it can rally after tough losses. Frustration can often ensue after a road loss to a conference rival, but the Hawkeyes remained calm and got the job done.

It has the opportunity to do much of the same in the rematch against Michigan State on Feb. 7, and the Hawkeyes should summon the same energy they had in their victory over Penn State.

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