By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Two days after losing to Drake for the first time in 15 years, the Iowa women’s basketball team took its frustration out on Kent State.
It just took a while.
Trailing 11-2, Iowa went on a 38-4 scoring run and then cruised to an 83-48 victory on Tuesday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“A pretty tough start to the game as you cans see,” said Iowa coach Lisa Bluder. “But we were really proud of the way they fought back after that. We had great momentum going into halftime.
“Sometimes, when you get a start like that it can go downhill from there. But at least we turned it around. I’m proud of them for that."
Bluder called an early timeout and blasted her players for their performance on defense. Her message was heard loud and clear as Iowa stiffened on defense, started hitting shots and offense and eventually pulled away.
Iowa led 44-21 at halftime.
“I just think they needed to be woken up a little bit,” Bluder said. “You’ve got to judge your team. Some teams can take it and some teams can’t. I thought at that point we deserved it. And I think they took it, and took it the right.
“And that’s really good to see because some teams you get on them like that and they can really tank on you. But I thought they did a good job.”
Bluder was concerned that the slow start might be part of a hangover effect from Sunday’s 81-76 loss at Drake. Iowa hadn’t lost to the Bulldogs since 2001.
“Yeah, absolutely,” Bluder said. “I thought we had a slow start at Drake, and obviously, a tough loss over there, emotionally draining and coming back to have one day to prepare for Kent State. You’re kind of worried about that lingering around.”
Sophomore center Megan Gustafson led three Iowa players in double figures with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field. Senior Ally Disterhoft scored 18 points, while freshman guard Makenize Meyer made four 3-point baskets and finished with 12 points.
Gustafson credited Bluder’s emotional timeout for lighting a fire.
“I think when coach Bluder got on us it kind of woke us up,” Gustafson said. “I think we really needed to focus on boxing out. That was kind of a key thing.”
Iowa improved to 9-4 with the victory and now has a week to prepare for its Big Ten opener against Illinois on Dec. 28 in Champaign, Ill.
“How we line up in the Big Ten, I really don’t look ahead at the Big Ten Conference,” Bluder said. “I don’t. I’ll start working on Illinois tonight.
“But it’s right around the corner now, so we’ve got to be ready.”