ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Out-worked and out-hustled on the boards, the Iowa women’s basketball team played its way out of the thick of the Big Ten race Friday.
A 90-81 loss at Michigan at Crisler Arena dropped the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes into third place in the conference standings, two games off the pace being set by league-leading Rutgers and one game behind Maryland.
The Wolverines grabbed 24 offensive rebounds and turned them into 25 second-chance points against an Iowa team that beat Michigan by 14 points two weeks earlier.
"If you want any chance at the end of the year of cutting down nets, if that’s important, losing to a 3-6 team in the Big Ten doesn’t help," coach Lisa Bluder said during her Learfield Sports postgame interview.
The loss ended a five-game winning streak for Iowa, an effort that was a struggle from the start for the Hawkeyes in a game originally scheduled for Thursday night but delayed until Friday because of inclement weather.
"It just seemed that we never got into any sort of a flow," Bluder said. "… It felt like we were playing catch-up the entire day."
Michigan connected on seven of its first eight shots from the field, grabbing a 16-7 lead midway through the opening quarter.
The Hawkeyes pulled within 39-36 by halftime but settled for trading baskets during the opening minutes of the third quarter. Iowa knocked down six of its first seven shots in the quarter, but Michigan countered with a 7-of-10 start.
Akienhreh Johnson and Kayla Robbins, who came off the bench to combine for 32 points, teamed up to collect 18 in the third quarter as the Wolverines built a 68-57 lead.
Iowa pulled within 74-68 on a Kathleen Doyle jumper with 7 minutes, 19 seconds remaining, but a pair of free throws by Naz Hillmon and an offensive rebound and putback by Johnson allowed Michigan to regain a 10-point lead that went unchallenged.
The Hawkeyes (16-5, 7-3 Big Ten) shot 54.4 percent for the game but were stung 44-23 on the boards by a Michigan team Iowa out-rebounded 37-33 in their previous meeting.
That turnaround led the Wolverines to 71 shots from the field, 14 more than Iowa attempted.
"They have 21 more rebounds than we did and three less turnovers, and that was the game," Bluder said.
Megan Gustafson led the Hawkeyes with 27 points and nine rebounds, ending a string of 15 consecutive double-doubles for the Iowa senior.
Kathleen Doyle added 22 and Tania Davis 15 for the Hawkeyes, while Deja Church and Johnson led Michigan (13-9, 4-6) with 19 points apiece.
Iowa faces a quick turnaround now, returning to Iowa City on Friday afternoon from its extended trip to Michigan but leaving today for a 1 p.m. game Sunday at Penn State.