COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Hawkeyes took the hint.
After settling for unsuccessful jump shots in the second quarter, the 16th-ranked Iowa women’s basketball team pounded the ball into all-American Megan Gustafson in the second half and was rewarded with a 78-52 victory at Ohio State.
The senior post player hit seven of the nine shots she attempted in the third quarter to help the Hawkeyes pull away from a 31-27 halftime lead, a margin Iowa held after going 0-for-8 from 3-point range in the second quarter as the Buckeyes cut into the 19-9 lead Iowa held after the opening quarter.
“We got really stagnant in second quarter and were settling for threes,’’ Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said during her Learfield Sports postgame interview. “Ohio State wanted to keep the ball out of Megan’s hands, but we had to find a way to get in to her.’’
Gustafson scored 19 of her team-leading 29 points in the second half and tied a Big Ten record for career double-doubles by grabbing 16 rebounds as the Hawkeyes moved into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten.
The double-double was the 22nd of the season and 77th of Gustafson’s career, tying her with Jantel Lavender of Ohio State for the most ever by a player in the conference.
It came as Gustafson scored on 14-of-19 shots, part of a 53.4-percent effort from the field that marked the Hawkeyes’ ninth straight shooting performance of 50 percent or better.
As a team, Iowa hit 12-of-15 shots during a third quarter that ended on a 9-0 run which left the Hawkeyes in control, 58-37.
“I love to see the team regroup at halftime like that and a lot of it takes place before we even talk to them,’’ Bluder said. “It’s the seniors, the captains, talking about what they need to do. That’s so good to see.’’
The Hawkeyes (19-5, 10-3 Big Ten) outscored the Buckeyes 46-28 in the paint and limiting Ohio State to 32.8-percent shooting, maintained a lead of at least 16 points throughout the final quarter.
Kathleen Doyle was the only other Iowa player to finish in double figures, totaling 16. Dorka Juhasz led the Buckeyes (10-12, 6-7) with 12 points.
Combined with Rutgers’ 62-48 loss to Maryland on Sunday, the win allowed Iowa to tighten the Big Ten race.
The Hawkeyes are now one-half game in front of the Scarlet Knights in the Big Ten standings and one game behind the league-leading Terrapins, who visit Iowa next Sunday at noon.