BIMINI, Bahamas — No. 14 Iowa earned the biggest comeback win of the Lisa Bluder era Friday when the Hawkeyes came back from a 24-point deficit to beat No. 20 West Virginia, 84-81, in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam.
“I’m so proud of these women,” Bluder said. “When you’re down 24 points to a top-25 program, and just to come out and play that well in the second half. So proud of their mental toughness.”
Iowa (4-0) had a disastrous second quarter, getting outscored 31-12. The Hawkeyes shot just 23.5 percent (4-of-17) and had nine turnovers in the first half. Big Ten Player of the Year Megan Gustafson had just six shots in the first half.
“At the half, it was really, regain your composure,” Bluder said. “Get Megan the ball. We have an All-American center and she only has six shots. That’s not enough. Too many mental errors, unforced turnovers.”
Down 19 at half, 48-29, the Hawkeyes worked the margin down to 14 at the start of the fourth quarter, then opened the final quarter on a 10-1 run, featuring three buckets by Gustafson and a 3-pointer by Makenzie Meyer.
Iowa finally tied the game up at 75-75 with 1:40 left to play on a Gustafson shot. Tania Davis hit a pair of free throws to put Iowa ahead 79-77 with 47 seconds left. At the same time, West Virginia’s Naomi Davenport fouled out, less than a minute after Theresa Ekhelar fouled out.
Iowa made 6-of-9 free throws in the final quarter, and 27-of-32 in the game, including 13-of-14 by Davis.
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Gustafson finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds. Meyer added 20 points, Davis had 15 points, and Alexis Sevillian had 13 points.
The starters didn’t take much time off, with the Hawkeye bench playing just 17 minutes.
Iowa takes on Florida State (5-1) at 5:45 p.m. Saturday.
The Hawkeyes lost to FSU in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last year, 94-93, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.