IOWA CITY – When the first three-point try hit nothing but net, Makenzie Meyer felt good.
When the second one dropped, the entire Iowa women’s basketball team felt great.
“For a while, it seemed like it was literally raining threes,’’ Iowa center Megan Gustafson said. “It’s always a good thing when the threes are dropping.’’
The Hawkeyes collected six of their seven baskets from behind the arc in the first half, opening things up inside for Gustafson in the third quarter and adding up to a 94-82 win Sunday over Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Meyer knocked down two three pointers and Kathleen Doyle added a third in the game’s first three minutes, allowing Iowa to jump to a 13-2 advantage the Golden Gophers couldn’t catch.
The Hawkeyes hit in bunches again early in the second quarter, when Meyer followed back-to-back threes by Alexis Sevillian with her third on consecutive possessions as Iowa opened a 37-21 lead.
“It really boosted my confidence there at the beginning of the game. It’s always good to get that first one or two to drop, especially after struggling a bit at Michigan State,’’ Meyer said. “Once I was able to break that barrier on the lid, it kind of boosted my confidence.’’
Senior Chase Coley said Iowa found early success from what it learned in a five-point loss at Minnesota two weeks earlier, including a more dedicated approach on the boards.
The Hawkeyes found offensive success working the middle of the floor, looking for cutters or open shooters and that allowed Iowa to maintain a 48-33 lead at the half despite foul troubles which kept Gustafson and Doyle on the bench for the final 4 minutes, 31 seconds of the first half.
“We stuck to what was working for us, … picking apart their zone by putting the ball in the hands of our shooters and continuing to feed them,’’ said Coley, who scored 12 of her 17 points in the first half.
Gustafson took over from there, scoring 12 straight points for the Hawkeyes in the third quarter to help Iowa carry a 68-57 advantage into the final quarter.
The Iowa junior had just five points in the first half, but finished with 25 to go with 15 rebounds. The double-double was the 49th of Gustafson’s career, passing the 48 Kevin Kunnert had between 1971-73 as the most ever by a Hawkeye player, male or female.
Gustafson praised teamwork for allowing that to happen, something Iowa coach Lisa Bluder saw reflected in statistics against the Golden Gophers.
All five Hawkeye starters finished in double figures and six of the eight players who took the court contributed to the 20 assists Iowa recorded on 29 baskets.
“That’s team basketball and that’s when we are at our best,’’ Bluder said.
Kenisha Bell scored 22 of her career-high 35 points in the second half to keep Minnesota (17-6, 6-5 Big Ten) in the game, fouling out with :29 remaining after a Taiye Bello basket pulled the Gophers within 86-82.
Gustafson, Meyer and Doyle each hit a pair of free throws over the final seconds – part of a 27-of-33 game at the stripe for Iowa – as the Hawkeyes (18-6, 6-5) secured back-to-back wins for the first time since the last week of December.