Freshman guard Tania Davis sparks Iowa women off the bench
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tania Davis is only listed at 5-foot-4, but she’s growing up in a hurry for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
The freshman guard came off the bench to lead the Hawkeyes to a 62-56 victory over Tennessee-Martin in the Hawkeye Challenge on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Davis led four Iowa players in double figures with 12 points. She also dished out a team-leading four assists, tied for team-high honors with six rebounds and made both of her 3-point baskets on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter when Iowa was struggling on offense.
Her second trey cut the deficit to 12-8 with 1 minute, 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
“I thought Tania Davis just gave us a great spark in the first quarter especially because were struggling to get something to happen,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “And she came in and provided offense and defense for us. I just admire that spark off the bench.”
Davis came to Iowa highly decorated after being named Miss Basketball in Michigan as a senior last season. The Grand Blanc, Mich., native led Goodrich High School to back-to-back state titles as a freshman and sophomore, to a regional final as a junior and to a regional semifinal as a senior.
Sunday’s performance was a huge step forward for Davis as she tries to establish herself on a team that is trying to replace three starters from last season, including all-America point guard Sam Logic and 3-point shooting star Melissa Dixon.
“Coming in, I was just looking to play my role, actually,” Davis said of her mindset for Sunday’s game. “Do my defensive job, move the ball on offense and take the open shot when it was open. And luckily, my shots fell and my defense followed.”
Junior guard Alexa Kastanek scored Iowa’s final six points of the game on back-to-back 3-pointers in the final 4 minutes. She made a trey to expand Iowa’s lead to 59-52 with 3:58 remaining. She then made another trey from almost the same spot on the floor in front of the Iowa bench, pushing the lead to 62-56 with 1:42 left to play.
Neither team scored from that point on as Iowa improved to 2-0 on the young season.
“Those were really clutch,” Bluder said of Kastanek’s two 3-point baskets. “I mean we’re talking the last four minutes of the game, tight game. They went zone and she stepped up and hit those baseline jumpers.”
Kastanek joined Davis in double figures with 11 points. Junior Ally Disterhoft also finished with 11 points, while freshman center Megan Gustafson came off the bench to score 10 points.
Disterhoft also became the 34th member of the Iowa women’s basketball program to score at least 1,000 points as a Hawkeye.
“It’s an honor, but I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything without my amazing teammates,” said Disterhoft, who attended Iowa City West High School. “I’ve played with some incredible girls over these past two years.”
Iowa took its only lead in the first half when Disterhoft converted a conventional 3-point play with 1:07 left in the second quarter, giving Iowa a 26-23 advantage.
DaiJia Ruffin answered with her own conventional 3-point play for Tennessee-Martin with 47.3 second left before halftime. That evened the score at 26-26 heading into halftime.
Davis led Iowa with 10 points and also had four rebounds, while playing 15 minutes off the bench in the first half.
The Hawkeyes outscored Tennessee-Martin 21-14 in the third quarter as five different players scored at least two points in the quarter for Iowa.
Sophomore center Chase Coley scored the final four points of the third quarter, including two free throws that expanded Iowa’s lead to 47-40 heading to the fourth quarter.
Ruffin led Tennessee-Martin with 15 points off the bench.
Iowa will play its next game against Western Illinois on Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.