Lisa Bluder, Ally Disterhoft, Tania Davis and Kathleen Doyle talk about how they were able to beat the Cyclones 88-76.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Ally Disterhoft and Megan Gustafson combined to make just eight shots for 24 points Wednesday night against Iowa State. If Bill Fennelly had known that before the game, he would’ve liked his chances, right?
"Absolutely," the Cyclones' coach said after watching his team lose 88-76. "They were the first two names on the scouting report."
His team's problem? The Hawkeyes not named Disterhoft or Gustafson scored 64 points on 59 percent shooting (21-for-36). The Cyclones did a fine job against the top of the scouting report, relatively speaking. (Gustafson still recorded a 10-point, 13-board double-double.)
But they could do nothing to stop the rest of an Iowa team that’s rounding into Big Ten Conference form.
"I don’t think people expected (Tania) Davis (to go off)," Fennelly said. "Kathleen Doyle’s a great player, but I don’t know they expected her to get 17."
Davis and Doyle both had career nights. Let's dive a bit into their games:
The sophomore point guard finished with a career-high 23 points, with five 3-pointers among her seven made field goals.
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder lauded Davis’ new-and-improved outside shot this preseason. Davis had surgery on her left shoulder over the summer, so she was forced to shoot one-handed for a while and rely less on her left guide hand.
But until Wednesday, her new stroke yielded just a slightly above average 12-for-32 (37.5 percent) mark from long range.
Then she went out and was 5-for-6 from long range against Iowa State. Corner, straightaway, spot-up, catch-and-shoot. All four long-ball varieties, Davis made.
“My confidence is through the roof right now,” she said.
Iowa State’s Jadda Buckley, who led the Cyclones with 21, had to spend most of the game guarding Davis. She was impressed.
“She’s a great player; she has a lot of speed,” said Buckley, already a two-time Big 12 player of the week recipient. “She can dish it out to her teammates pretty well, but she can also take it to the hoop, as you guys can see. And knock down the 3 as well. So she’s just very versatile.
“Defending that, you’ve got to be on your toes. You’ve got to have your hands up, but you’ve also got to stay back to protect the drive.”
When the most recent Miss Illinois Basketball committed to Iowa over Indiana, Nebraska and Vanderbilt in late May, Bluder imagined games like the one her freshman guard had Wednesday.
A career-high 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Five assists. Three steals. Just one turnover.
"We knew how good of a player she is," Bluder said of Doyle, who was the nation's 20th-best recruit last year, according to Blue Star.
After starting the season on the bench, Doyle is a firmly entrenched mainstay in Bluder’s starting five. She’s got infectious energy, great size and speed for a guard, a textbook jump shot, ridiculous tenacity on defense and the ability to knife and duck into the lane.
She's still raw, however. Sometimes, she’s too intense on defense and gets in foul trouble. Sometimes, she plays too fast on offense and veers out of control.
But those rough edges were nowhere to be found against Iowa State. Doyle previewed what could be a Big Ten player of the year-type career for the crowd of 4,579 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"In games, I just try to bring my energy on the defensive end, because that usually leads to great offense for our team," Doyle said. "So I just try to provide whatever spark I can on defense, and I’ve been doing the job lately."
One play best sums up Doyle’s night.
The ball found her in transition with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left in the second quarter. She head-faked from the top of the key, dribbled past her defender (who smacked her in the face) and finished the layup while drawing the whistle for a foul. Doyle clenched her fists, flexed and nodded under the basket.
Doyle made the free throw to complete and and-one. Iowa led 23-17 at the time, and her bucket spurred an 8-1 run to close the second quarter.
"There was a lot of energy leading into this game, and I knew how big of a game it was, so I was just trying to do whatever I can to help the team win," Doyle said. "That’s all that matters — that we won."
Mason City reunion
Buckley and Makenzie Meyer played together for one season in 2012-13 at Mason City High. A senior and freshman, Buckley and Meyer averaged 14 and 9.8 per game, respectively, en route to a state semifinal berth. Meyer logged six points and an assist Wednesday.
"It’s always fun being on the same court as Makenzie," Buckley said. "She’s a great girl, she’s super nice, comes from a good family. So having that year back home that we got to play together was pretty awesome. Obviously, we’re on different ends of the spectrum now, but she has a lot of potential and she’s going to show that throughout her four years here at Iowa."
WHO: Robert Morris (4-5) at Iowa (7-3)
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
TIME/TV: 7 p.m., BTN Plus
ABOUT THE COLONIALS: Robert Morris return four starters from a 20-win team last year that won the Northeast Conference tournament, and it's expected to compete for another conference title. Preseason all-conference guard A Niki Stamolamprou is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and nearly three steals per game.
Bain covers Hawkeyes basketball for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.