IOWA CITY — Thursday was a great night to stay inside.
Ask the Iowa women’s basketball team.
The Hawkeyes pounded the ball inside all night long and were rewarded with their third straight win, holding off Penn State 80-76 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Megan Gustafson moved into ninth on the Iowa career scoring list, passing Morgan Johnson and Tangela Smith with a 33-point performance that was part of the junior post player’s 23rd double-double of the season.
Gustafson finished with 14 rebounds but was most pleased with the career-high seven assists.
Most of those came as the Nittany Lions doubled down on Gustafson and she was able to dish the ball off to Chase Coley or Hannah Stewart.
"We work on that all time, feeding each other the ball to make it work when a team doubles down like that. It was fun to have a chance to do that in a game," said Coley, who finished with a career-high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
As a group, Iowa’s post players brought a hot shooting touch.
The three combined to go 16-of-19 from the field in the first half, helping the Hawkeyes to a 49-34 lead after two quarters that included all eight of Stewart’s points.
"We went into the game thinking that we had an advantage inside, and when they doubled down on Megan, Chase and Hannah knew what to do," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said in her postgame radio interview. "We came out with a great deal of energy in the first quarter, which set a good tone."
Iowa never trailed in the game, but Teniya Page scored 17 of her team-high 23 points in the final two quarters to help the Nittany Lions (14-11, 5-7 Big Ten) rally late.
A 12-0 run in the fourth quarter pulled Penn State within 75-73 when Page hit the first of two free throws with 2 minutes, 56 seconds remaining.
That came in a midst of scoring drought by the Hawkeyes (19-6, 7-5) that ended when Gustafson hit two free throws with :50 remaining to extend the Iowa edge to 77-73.
A 3-pointer by Page kept the Nittany Lions within 78-76 with :35 to go, but Gustafson finished off her 50th career double-double with a lay-in with :07 remaining to secure the win.