Iowa Women's Basketball

Iowa Hawkeyes learn some lessons, but still beat Nebraska

No. 20 Iowa fights past Cornhuskers, 77-71

IOWA CITY — Time didn’t stand still. It just seemed that way.

“The last minute or two took forever,” Iowa Coach Lisa Bluder said. “It seemed like the clock couldn’t go.”

It took a while, and it was more difficult than it needed to be, but 20th-ranked Iowa fought past Nebraska, 77-71, in a Big Ten women’s basketball game in front of 4,391 Thursday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Take it and move on.

“We made this harder than it had to be,” Bluder said. “We had too many missed free throws and too many turnovers. It was a good lesson. A lot of times, you learn lessons in a loss. Tonight, we learned them and still won.”

Megan Gustafson collected a hard-earned 28 points and 17 rebounds as the Hawkeyes (10-3 overall) squared their Big Ten mark at 1-1.

“Their game plan was to double down in the post,” said Gustafson, who was honored before the game with two commemorative basketballs — one for her school record in points, one for her career-rebounds record. “My mental game really has to be ready to go, because there’s a big target on my back.”

The Huskers (7-7, 2-1) sandwiched Gustafson in the paint throughout, and the All-American drew 12 Nebraska fouls. She managed 11 baskets in 20 attempts, well off her season field-goal rate of 72.9 percent.

“Any time you walk away and their best player had 28 and 17, I wouldn’t say we did a good job on her,” Nebraska Coach Amy Williams said. “The big thing is, we’ve got to keep Kate Cain out of foul trouble.”

Cain, who stands 2 inches taller than Gustafson at 6-foot-5, fouled out with 6:14 to go.

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Iowa looked safe at that point, and for a couple of minutes after that. Hannah Stewart’s high-post basket made it 69-57, and it remained a 12-point game with less than four minutes to go.

But Nebraska went on a 14-4 run to close within 73-71 with a half-minute left.

Tania Davis was fouled with 0:22 left. She made the first free throw, and missed the second. Stewart rebounded.

Alexis Sevillian was fouled with 0:18 left. She made the first foul shot, and missed the second.

Stewart rebounded again.

“We wanted the ball on our side,” Stewart said. “Tania and (Kathleen) Doyle will play the clock the right way. And Coach Bluder has been challenging me to get more rebounds.”

Stewart added 14 points. Davis and Doyle had 11 each, and Doyle dished out nine assists.

Thursday’s outcome, paired with Northwestern’s upset of No. 15 Michigan State, leaves only two Big Ten unbeatens — Indiana (13-1, 2-0) and Rutgers (9-3, 2-0).

“Home games are so critical,” Bluder said. “The Big Ten has been so crazy. It’s early and there have been a lot of upsets already.”

Despite subpar-for-her 6-of-13 shooting in the first half, Gustafson had 12 points and nine rebounds by halftime. She had the Hawkeyes’ final three buckets of the half, and Iowa went into the locker room in front, 37-34.

Down 43-39, the Hawkeyes scored 10 consecutive points to take the lead for good. Gustafson scored Iowa’s last 10 points of the third quarter, and the Hawkeyes took a 59-49 advantage into the final 10 minutes.

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“Whatever plan you have to slow her down, they have a counter to that plan,” Williams said. “No matter what you try to do, she’s very difficult to slow down.”

The Hawkeyes host Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Monday. Nebraska hosts No. 4 Maryland on Tuesday.

IOWA 77, NEBRASKA 71

At Iowa City

NEBRASKA (71): Maddie Simon 2-5 1-2 7, Kate Cain 1-6 1-1 3, Hannah Whitish 6-12 0-0 14, Nicea Eliely 1-2 2-2 5, Taylor Kissinger 2-9 0-0 5, Grace Mitchell 0-1 0-0 0, Kayla Mershon 1-3 0-0 2, Ashtyn Veerbeek 2-5 2-2 6, Leigha Brown 6-10 5-6 20, Sam Haiby 3-9 3-4 9. Totals 24-62 14-17 71.

IOWA (77): Hannah Stewart 6-11 2-2 14, Megan Gustafson 11-20 6-10 28, Makenzie Meyer 1-6 0-0 2, Tania Davis 4-9 1-2 11, Kathleen Doyle 5-9 1-2 11, Tomi Taiwo 1-2 0-0 3, Amanda Ollinger 0-0 0-0 0, Monika Czinano 0-0 0-0 0, Alexis Sevillian 2-4 3-4 8. Totals 30-61 13-20 77.

Halftime: Iowa 37, Nebraska 34. 3-point goals: Nebraska 9-21 (Simon 2-3, Whitish 2-4, Eliely 1-2, Kissinger 1-5, Mershon 0-1, Veerbeek 0-1, Brown 3-4, Haiby 0-1), Iowa 4-12 (Meyer 0-4, Davis 2-4, Doyle 0-1, Taiwo 1-1, Sevillian 1-2). Team fouls: Nebraska 23, Iowa 14. Fouled out: Cain, Brown. Rebounds: Nebraska 36 (Veerbeek 9), Iowa 41 (Gustafson 17). Assists: Nebraska 14 (Eliely 5), Iowa 21 (Doyle 9). Steals: Nebraska 8 (three with 2), Iowa 7 (Doyle 4). Turnovers: Nebraska 17, Iowa 17.

Attendance: 4,391.

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

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