IOWA CITY – Splat.
The follow-up to a win over 12th-ranked Ohio State wasn’t worth watching Sunday for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
The final margin was 92-74, but Nebraska led by as many as 36 points on three occasions in the third quarter as they embarrassed the Hawkeyes in front of a crowd of 8,823 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the largest of the season.
They watched the Cornhuskers break the game open with runs of 25-1 and 15-2 in the first half, humbling Iowa in nearly every way imaginable while building a 56-26 halftime lead.
“I can’t explain our performance in the first half,’’ Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said, offering an apology to fans who sat through the lopsided loss. “It was a struggle offensively, defensively. It felt like everything was going Nebraska’s way, every shot, every call, everything. It was like living a bad dream.’’
The Hawkeye nightmare came during a 14-minute stretch which saw Nebraska outscore Iowa 49-15, troubles that started with a 25-1 run that started after Kathleen Doyle drilled a three-point basket that left the Cornhuskers in an 11-7 hole with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the opening quarter.
By the time Makenzie Meyer hit Iowa’s next field goal with 8:18 remaining in the first half, Nebraska had opened up 32-12 lead.
In the seven-plus minutes between, the Hawkeyes missed 10 shots and recorded six of their 16 turnovers as the Cornhuskers took control of the game with a defensive effort centered around denying Iowa inside opportunities.
Janay Morton fueled the surge, burying three-point baskets over the final two minutes of the first quarter, last banked in to give Nebraska a 22-12 lead after one quarter.
“The intensity, it just wasn’t there,’’ Iowa junior Megan Gustafson said. “On both ends, it wasn’t there.’’
The onslaught continued throughout the second quarter, which ended with a 15-2 run by the Cornhuskers that left the Hawkeyes in a 30-point halftime hole.
“I never dreamed anything like this would be coming. I thought we’d come out on a roll after our win over Ohio State,’’ Bluder said. “But from the start, we looked flat and combined with their defense, it wasn’t there. The energy we had against Ohio State, it wasn’t there.’’
Nebraska (16-6, 7-2 Big Ten) didn’t stop at the half.
Led by 19 points from Maddie Simon, the Cornhuskers ended any faint Hawkeye hopes by scoring the first six points of the third quarter, opening a 62-26 margin and the first of three 36-point leads in the quarter.
Nebraska’s 56 first-half points were the most scored by the Cornhuskers against any conference foe at any point in the program’s history, but coach Amy Williams felt defense fueled it all.
“It was the best stretch of basketball we’ve had since I’ve been here,’’ the second-year coach said. “Our focus in practice the last few days was all about getting stops. It worked out that we caused a few turnovers along the way, but our energy was centered on getting defensive stops. That’s where it had to start.’’
Gustafson led the Hawkeyes (16-6, 4-5) with her 20th double-double of the season, finishing with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Doyle was the only other Iowa player to reach double figures, totaling 16 points and hitting the only three-point basket Iowa had in 12 attempts.