IOWA CITY — There might not be a basketball coach that values an assist more that Lisa Bluder.
Her players obviously have picked up that same vibe.
The Iowa women’s basketball team set a school record by handing out 36 assists (on 41 baskets) en route to a 106-39 rout over an overmatched North Carolina Central squad Saturday night before 3,238 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Man, when you have 36 assists on 41 baskets, that’s something special,” Bluder said. “We were shooting the ball well from 2-point and 3-point range as well.
“We really celebrate assists. We get excited about them. That’s just as good for us as the basket.”
Junior Makenzie Meyer had another strong floor game for No. 17 Iowa (4-0). She finished with 16 points and tied her career high with eight assists. With Kathleen Doyle still recovering from a broken hand, Meyer has stepped up and become more of a distributor.
“It is a little more comfortable for me,” she said about the added point guard duties. “I can’t wait to have her back on the court with me but I’ve been playing with Lexi (Sevillian) and Tania (Davis) so I am really comfortable with both of those guards on the court.”
There has been no change in Doyle’s status and the timetable remains the same for her return, according to Bluder.
“She will have the hand X-rayed again when we get back from the Bahamas,” said the Iowa coach. “It was a 4-6 week injury and now we’re down to 2-4 weeks.”
Saturday night’s game was never in doubt. Iowa led 17-10 after the first quarter and built from there. Megan Gustafson led the Hawkeyes with 20 points and 10 rebounds, coming off a perfect 13-for-13 shooting performance in Tuesday’s 104-67 win over Western Kentucky.
She connected on her first three shots Saturday before missing a layup just before the end of the first quarter. She finished 9-of-13 from the field.
“I know I couldn’t stay perfect,” she said with a smile. “I just rushed it a little trying to beat the buzzer.”
Freshman Monica Czinano had her best game as a Hawkeye, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes. The Iowa bench finished with 42 points. Only sophomore center Paula Valino Ramos failed to score, but she contributed with four rebounds and three assists in six minutes.
Bluder said it was important for the bench players to get experience entering this weekend’s Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas with games on Friday and Saturday.
“I thought it was really important for us to get that experience for the younger kids,” Bluder said. “We’re going on the road to back-to-back games without Kathleen and Tania at 100 percent. That’s going to be really tough and we’re going to be really counting on them down there.”
Hannah Stewart chipped in with 15 points and seven rebounds for the Hawkeyes.
Lanay Rodney led the visiting Eagles (0-4) with seven points. North Carolina Central shot just 27.4 percent from the field.
Iowa plays West Virginia (3-0) at 4:15 p.m. CT Friday in the Bahamas.