By Darren Miller
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa women’s basketball team made it 2-for-2 in revenge games this week, downing Indiana, 76-73, in front of 9,838 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes dug themselves a nine-point hole to start the game, rallied to go up by 19, and did what they needed down the stretch to improve to 17-11 overall, 7-9 in the Big Ten Conference. Indiana is 18-01, 10-6.
The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with 22 free throw attempts per game, but went to the line just seven times Sunday (making all seven).
"We played a lot of zone, but seven free throws was key," UI head coach Lisa Bluder said. "They are so good at getting to the free throw line, so making sure we kept them off the free throw line was important."
Iowa was 12-of-15 from the line, led by Tania Davis (5-for-5), Chase Coley (4-of-4), and Ally Disterhoft (2-for-2). Disterhoft scored the game’s final points with free throws with 15 seconds left.
"I was like, `It’s about dang time,’" Disterhoft said. "It was nice to put them in."
The Hawkeyes are making a push for their ninth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and they apparently need two more outings next week like the ones they turned in Thursday and Sunday. Iowa knocked off Purdue three days ago, 63-55, after losing to the Boilermakers by 17 on Jan. 24. On Sunday, they avenged a five-point loss at Indiana on Feb. 4 in a game they led by 17 late in the third quarter.
"If you start thinking about the last time, you will probably get a repeat performance," Bluder said. "There’s some pressure, so you’re happy when your team responds to that pressure."
After spotting Indiana the first nine points, Iowa roared back and took a 43-28 lead at halftime. The Hawkeyes led by 19 (41-22) with 3:29 left in the second quarter. Iowa outscored Indiana, 24-8, in the second quarter behind 11 points and perfect shooting by Davis. She was 4-of-4 from the field (2-of-2 from 3-point range) and 1-of-1 from the line.
"I think we played one of the best second quarters of the year," Bluder said.
Iowa was 10-of-20 from the field in the second quarter, 2-of-6 from distance, 1-of-1 from the line, with 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Hawkeyes made 17-of-34 field goals at the break (50 percent). Davis scored 13 points and Disterhoft had nine. Coley, Disterhoft, and Megan Gustafson all had five rebounds.
Although the second half scoreboard leaned in Indiana’s favor (45-33), hustle plays by the Hawkeyes at the end of the third and fourth quarters provided sparks. With 56 seconds left in the third quarter, Disterhoft misfired on a 3-point attempt, but followed her shot, got the rebound, and drove in for a layup. On Iowa’s next possession, Davis milked the game clock before driving the lane and lofting a high-arching attempt that found all net and put the Hawkeyes ahead, 59-53.
With 80 seconds left and Iowa leading, 74-70, Indiana’s Karlee McBride got a steal and had open court ahead. Davis hurried back, tapped the ball back to McBride who had her second attempt rejected by Disterhoft.
"I didn’t want to give up an easy bucket, so hustling back and getting a hand on it and hoping my teammates would get back – which Ally did – and she came up with a huge block," Davis said.
The Hoosiers got within a point at 74-73 with 50 seconds left before Disterhoft’s two free throws. Indiana called timeout with 15 seconds left and missed two 3-point attempts in the final five seconds. Another hustle play was turned in by Gustafson with 21.5 seconds left.
Whitney Jennings missed a jump shot, but Gustafson lunged for the loose ball and forced a jump ball that went to the Hawkeyes.
Disterhoft led five Hawkeyes in double figures with 19 points. Her eight rebounds were second on the team to Coley, who had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Davis scored 17 points, and Gustafson and Jennings both had 10 points.
"I thought Tania did a great job of leading us today," Bluder said. "Her game was exceptional and she made key baskets. She also had a great push in transition when we needed it in the first half."
Coley had a team-high four assists; Gustafson (four) and Coley (three) combined for seven blocked shots. The Hawkeyes blocked nine shots in the game.
The Hawkeyes have two games left in the regular season, beginning with a road contest at Penn State (10-17, 5-11) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. (CT). The Nittany Lions defeated Iowa, 82-69, on Jan. 20. The Hawkeyes host Illinois (9-18, 2-14) on Saturday at 5 p.m.