EVANSTON, Ill. -- A defensive difference led the Iowa women's basketball team to its 20th victory of the season Sunday.
The Hawkeyes held Northwestern to 37-percent shooting on their way to a 70-61 win in a game played at Evanston High School because on going renovation work at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The bulk of that effort came after the Wildcats ran off eight straight points in a little over two minutes to open the second quarter, tying the game at 21-21 and prompting a quick timeout by Iowa coach Lisa Bluder.
The Hawkeyes responded by closing the first half on a 16-3 run, forcing Northwestern into 1-of-12 shooting and forcing four turnovers over the final 7 minutes, 39 seconds of the first half.
"Our defense was huge in that part of the game,'' Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer said. "And really, for the rest of the game we were able to get the defensive stops we needed.''
Once the Hawkeyes opened a 37-23 halftime lead, Northwestern struggled to cut into a margin that never slipped below nine points the rest of the game as Iowa won its fourth straight game.
"The defense we played after the timeout in the second quarter gave us a nice margin,'' Bluder said in a postgame radio interview.
The Hawkeyes (20-6, 8-5 Big Ten) found success pounding the ball inside, collecting 48 points in the paint.
Despite being triple-teamed at times, Megan Gustafson led Iowa with her 24th double-double of the season, connecting on 10-of-12 shots as part of a 25-point, 16-rebound performance.
"They had the size to throw 15 fouls at her and try to wear her down, but Megan does a great job of keeping her composure and just plays,'' Bluder said.
Kathleen Doyle added 15 points and Meyer finished with 12 for Iowa, while Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah led Northwestern (9-17, 2-10) with 17 points and 10 rebounds.