Iowa Women's Basketball

Big second-half effort lifts Iowa women's basketball past Minnesota

Tania Davis gives halftime speech, leads Hawkeyes to 81-63 comeback win

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Tania Davis (11) and Megan Gustafson (10) led Iowa past Minnesota, 81-63, in a women’s basketball game Monday at Minneapolis. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Tania Davis (11) and Megan Gustafson (10) led Iowa past Minnesota, 81-63, in a women’s basketball game Monday at Minneapolis. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

MINNEAPOLIS — Halftime, Lisa Bluder said, “couldn’t come soon enough.”

When it did, Tania Davis had something to say.

“I told them we had 14 turnovers,” Davis said. “That’s uncharacteristic of us. We know we’re better than that.

“I tried to instill confidence — be strong with the ball, be smart, be patient.”

The 17th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes were all of that in the second half, turning an eight-point halftime deficit into a much-needed Big Ten women’s basketball road victory over No. 20 Minnesota, 81-63, in front of 5,439 Monday night at Williams Arena.

Bluder, the Hawkeyes’ head coach, gives veterans the opportunity to speak at halftime.

“It’s valuable,” she said. “Especially when you have veteran seniors like we do.”

It was those seniors that carried the Hawkeyes (12-4 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) home. Megan Gustafson posted 34 points and 13 rebounds. Davis added 21 points and seven assists. Hannah Stewart tallied 10 points and nine boards.

Those three were 28 of 37 from the field.

Gustafson gets the attention and the accolades, but Davis “was the difference-maker tonight,” according to Minnesota Coach Lindsay Whalen.

Iowa committed 10 turnovers in the second quarter, allowing the Gophers (12-4, 1-4) to turn a six-point deficit into a 40-32 lead at the break.

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“We were putting pressure on their perimeter, and they weren’t able to throw it inside,” Whalen said.

But Davis spoke her piece at halftime, and the Hawkeyes came out of the locker room a completely different crew. Iowa opened the second half with a 20-3 run for a 52-43 advantage, and it was 56-49 at the end of the third quarter.

Gustafson converted inside with 8:55 left for an 11-point margin, and it stayed in double digits the rest of the way.

Thus, the Hawkeyes moved into sole possession of fifth place in the Big Ten, two games behind league-leading Rutgers and one game in back of Maryland, Indiana and Purdue.

After committing those 14 first-half turnovers, Iowa coughed it up just four times the rest of the way.

“The first half, we didn’t value the ball. The second half, we did,” Bluder said.

“We were able to keep working it inside,” Gustafson said. “I was able to depend on my teammates.”

Kenisha Bell led the Gophers with 22 points. Destiny Pitts scored 16 points and Taiye Bello chipped in with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

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Gustafson is a native of Port Wing, Wis., an unincorporated town of 160, about three hours from the Twin Cities. A bus full of hometown fans made the trip.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Gustafson said. “It was special to have a lot of family and friends here.”

The press conference ended. Davis stepped off the podium and turned.

“Hey, Megan,” she said. “How may people were on that bus?”

“The whole town, I think,” Gustafson answered.

The Hawkeyes host Michigan at 7 p.m. Thursday. Minnesota is at Nebraska on Sunday.

IOWA 81, MINNESOTA 63

At Minneapolis

IOWA (81): Hannah Stewart 4-5 2-2 10, Megan Gustafson 16-22 2-2 34, Makenzie Meyer 0-3 0-0 0, Tania Davis 8-10 2-2 21, Kathleen Doyle 4-8 2-4 11, Alexis Sevillian 2-6 0-0 5, Amanda Ollinger 0-0 0-0 0, Monika Czinano 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-54 8-19 81.

MINNESOTA (63): Taiye Bello 5-11 2-3 12, Annalese Lamke 3-7 2-4 8, Destiny Pitts 6-17 0-0 16, Jasmine Brunson 1-7 1-2 4, Kenisha Bell 9-20 4-7 22, Irena Garrido-Perez 0-1 0-0 0, Mercedes Staples 0-0 0-0 0, Palma Kasposi 0-2 1-2 1. Totals 24-65 10-18 63.

Halftime: Minnesota 40, Iowa 32. 3-point goals: Iowa 5-13 (Meyer 0-2, Davis 3-4, Doyle 1-3, Sevillian 1-4), Minnesota 5-24 (Pitts 4-14, Brunson 1-6, Bell 0-3, Garrido Perez 0-1). Team fouls: Iowa 18, Minnesota 14. Fouled out: Lamke. Rebounds: Iowa 32 (Gustafson 13), Minnesota 31 (Bello 12). Assists: Iowa 25 (Davis, Doyle 7), Minnesota 13 (Pitts 4). Steals: Iowa 10 (Doyle 4), Minnesota 7 (Pitts 3). Turnovers: Iowa 18, Minnesota 14.

Attendance: 5,439.

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

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