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IOWA CITY — Trailing by four points to Wisconsin with 7:47 left in the fourth quarter, Lisa Bluder called a timeout.
The Iowa women’s basketball head coach was not happy with her team’s half-court offense and for good reason. A nine-point halftime lead was gone, shots weren’t falling and while there was ball movement, shooters weren’t getting open.
Senior guards Ally Disterhoft and Alexa Kastanek looked frustrated. This wasn’t how either wanted their last home game to go.
But then, in the timeout, something clicked.
“This was the last time on our court and you get that sense of pride back, and you start playing for the seniors, that’s something special,” Kastanek said. “That’s what lit the fire.”
The Hawkeyes finished the final eight minutes of the period on a 19-4 run and took the game 71-60, moving to 17-12 on the season.
Iowa sophomore forward Megan Gustafson, who finished with 22 points and 14 boards, got involved back into the offense out of the timeout to help provide a spark. Immediately drilling two shots, Gustafson contributed eight points to the backbreaking run.
After she hit the back-to-back shots, the Badgers were still fighting and managed to get a layup. A Disterhoft finish through contact two possessions later netted a three-point play and the Hawkeyes took a 59-58 lead, the last change of the game.
Kastanek proceeded to hit back-to-back triples, ending any hope of a Wisconsin comeback.
“It was fitting to see Lex hit those two threes,” Bluder said. ‘That’s one of those storybook type things.”
A scrappy game, Wisconsin was whistled five times in the first 1:51 of the second half and picked up fouls at an incredible rate. Ending with 20, it was right near Wisconsin’s season average of 18.2, which ranks 217th in the nation.
It wasn’t exactly part of Iowa’s game plan to take advantage of the Badgers’ tendency to foul, but finishing 11-of-12 from the free=throw line certainly didn’t hurt the cause.
Bluder did seem to have a little regret her team wasn’t able to use the bonus more to its advantage, but ultimately the fouls did pile up for the Badgers. No Wisconsin players fouled out, but three did have four fouls, wreaking havoc on its rotations.
“It’s hard to plan on fouls and I think that because you never know what officials are going to call,” Bluder said. “They sat in a zone and we’re still going to try and draw fouls from a zone, that really didn’t change for this game.”
Disterhoft led the Hawkeyes from the charity stripe, hitting 4-of-5. She was, as usual, one of Iowa’s most efficient scorers, hitting five shots in the first half and seven for the day, scoring 19 total points.
She also added six rebounds and three blocks.
“We’re just happy we got the win,” Disterhoft said. “It wasn’t pretty but we’ll take it anytime.”
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