Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa women's basketball pursues third straight win vs. Iowa State

Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder gets 'really amped up' for the Cyclones, according to Tania Davis

Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (22) and Hannah Stewart (21) celebrate after their win at Iowa State last year. The Hawkeyes go after their third straight victory against the Cyclones on Wednesday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa’s Kathleen Doyle (22) and Hannah Stewart (21) celebrate after their win at Iowa State last year. The Hawkeyes go after their third straight victory against the Cyclones on Wednesday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The rosters aren’t exactly flooded with Iowans.

In fact, the Iowa State and Iowa women’s basketball programs combine for as many international players (five) as in-staters.

For the homebodies, though ...

“This holds a special place in my heart,” Iowa’s Makenzie Meyer said. “You can tell there’s extra passion and emotion that comes from this.”

The annual Cy-Hawk game is Wednesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (tipoff is 7 p.m.), and the 16th-ranked Hawkeyes (5-2) are shooting for their third straight win over ISU (6-1), a feat that hasn’t happened since the 1990s.

“Beating them on their home court last year was pretty nice,” Iowa’s Hannah Stewart said. “To win three times in a row, that would be awesome.”

The Hawkeyes finally broke serve in Ames last year. Their 61-55 victory at Hilton Coliseum was their first since 1989. Meyer, a Mason City native, hit 4 of 5 long-range shots in that game and led the Hawkeyes with 18 points.

Now a junior, Meyer is 2-0 against the Cyclones.

“Three-and-oh, that would be really important. One of my goals is to stay undefeated against them,” she said.

Meyer is one of three Iowans on the Hawkeyes’ roster, joining junior Amanda Ollinger (Cedar Rapids) and freshman Logan Cook (Iowa City).

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Iowa State counters with senior Meredith Burkhall (Urbandale) and freshman Ashley Joens (Iowa City).

Joens was Miss Iowa Basketball and The Gazette’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2018. She said she was not offered a scholarship by the Hawkeyes.

“I wouldn’t have gone there anyway,” she said in a June interview. “This is a place I can call home.

“I’m excited to play (the Hawkeyes). We’re going to beat ‘em.”

The stars of the show are a Wisconsinite (Iowa’s Megan Gustafson) and a Canadian (ISU’s Bridget Carleton).

Gustafson — termed by ISU Coach Bill Fennelly last season as “eerily efficient” — is a lock to become Iowa’s all-time leading career rebounder Wednesday. She has 1,064 boards to her credit; Cindy Haugejorde (1976-80) is the leader at 1,067.

In addition, the consensus all-American needs 23 points to reach 2,000 for her career.

“It’s really exciting to think about these things coming up,” Gustafson said. “But right now, my focus is on the team, and what I can do for them. I want to win.”

So far this season, Gustafson is averaging 24.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game.

Need something else to track? Her 77-percent field-goal accuracy is above the all-time NCAA Division I season record of 72.4 percent (Myndee Kay Larsen, Southern Utah, 1998).

Yeah, that’s eerily efficient.

Carleton paces the Cyclones at 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest.

“Bridget Carleton is an amazing basketball player. She’s a handful to guard,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “She’s so effective in so many ways, shooting the 3-pointer, driving and posting up.”

Joens is next for the Cyclones at 11.1 ppg.

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Iowa’s seniors — Gustafson, Stewart and Tania Davis — were freshmen when the Cyclones last won in this series, 69-66 in 2015.

Davis remembers it well.

“I saw what that did to (Bluder) in the next practice. It really struck a chord with her,” Davis said.

“When we play Iowa State, she gets really amped up. Losing to them isn’t a good thing for her; you can see it in her eyes. I don’t want to do that again.”

Bluder doesn’t deny Davis’ claim.

“Yeah, I get more excited,” she said. “It’s hard not to get juiced up about your in-state rivals, especially when they’re good. And this year, they’re good.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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