By Darren Miller
University of Iowa Sports Information
IOWA CITY, Iowa — After 35 minutes of back-and-forth basketball, the University of Iowa created space in the final five minutes and held on for a 69-65 victory over Rutgers on Monday to extend its winning streak to 25 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The Hawkeyes — ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll — improved to 12-2 overall, 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference. Rutgers, coached by former Hawkeye C. Vivian Stringer, fell to 10-4, 1-1.
There were 14 lead changes in the game, seven coming during the first 10 minutes.
Iowa placed four in double figures, paced by junior Alexa Kastanek with 20 points and five 3-point field goals. Junior Ally Disterhoft added 15 points and sophomores Chase Coley and Whitney Jennings finished with 10 apiece. Jennings scored all of her points in the final 15:36.
"This is a great win for us," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "We beat a really good basketball team and I feel good coming out with this win. Our team played a great game."
After shooting 64 percent from the field in the first half, the Hawkeyes finished at a season-high 55 percent for the game (24-of-44). Disterhoft made her first four field goal attempts and finished 7-of-11. Coley was 5-of-8 and Jennings made 4-of-7.
"We came together and played team basketball and focused on getting stops on defense and rebounding," Disterhoft said. "We came out with a lot of energy. We heard how tough our schedule was starting out and it has been, but we have made a few statements by getting two quality wins."
In a similar formula to the one that led to a Big Ten-opening win at Nebraska on Dec. 31, the Hawkeyes shot 19 more free throws than Rutgers and finished plus-3 in rebounding. Freshman Tania Davis was 6-of-6 from the line.
Coley put the Hawkeyes ahead, 4-0, two minutes into the game with two jumpers from the left side and Kastanek added eight points on two 3-pointers and two free throws. Disterhoft was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field for six points.
Iowa was plus-6 in rebounding after the first 10 minutes where it had six turnovers, but also assisted six times on seven made field goals.
It was almost a mirror image at the beginning of the second quarter with Coley scoring the Hawkeyes’ first four points and Kastanek swishing a 3-pointer to give Iowa a 25-22 lead that prompted Stringer to call timeout.
The Hawkeyes opened a seven-point lead (31-24) with 3:45 left in the half, but Rutgers closed with an 8-0 run over the final 84 seconds to lead at the break, 37-33.
Iowa was 14-of-22 from the field in the first half, but committed 16 turnovers that Rutgers converted into 19 points and a 37-33 lead at the break. (The Hawkeyes had just five turnovers in the second half).
"Our turnovers hurt us in the first half and that’s why we went into the locker room down by four," Kastanek said. "Then we started taking the shots we were looking for in practice and that is what got us this win."
Kastanek led the Hawkeyes with 11 points at halftime, Coley added 10, and Disterhoft scored eight on 4-of-4 shooting from the field.
Iowa went from six points down (39-33) to seven points ahead (54-47) in a third quarter that saw it outscore the Scarlet Knights, 23-16. The Hawkeyes went on an 8-0 run while holding Rutgers scoreless for nearly three minutes (5:57 to 3:02).
Bluder was pleased with freshman post Megan Gustafson, who scored six points with a team-high six rebounds and three blocked shots in 20 minutes.
"As a freshman coming in she battled in there," Bluder said. "I’m really, really proud of the effort that both Chase and Megan are giving us inside."
Disterhoft and Jennings both handed out four assists, Kastanek had three steals.