A win's a win, but the Hawkeyes sure could have put this one away sooner with clean basketball.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Iowa was clearly the better side in its 71-57 win against Rutgers Thursday night. Better post play, better speed on the perimeter, better ball movement — better everything. That was reflected in most facets of the game.
Except in the turnover battle.
Through three quarters, the Hawkeyes outshot the Scarlet Knights, 54 percent to 44 percent, outrebounded them, 27-20, and outassisted them, 15-7. They got to the line 14 times, while Rutgers got there zero times. They committed two fouls, while Rutgers committed 15.
But they only led Rutgers, 55-47, entering the fourth, and had turned it over 13 times compared to Rutgers' seven. Iowa could have run away with this one by halftime.
"Even when it got close, I was confident that we were going to pull out the win," said Kathleen Doyle, who finished with eight points and five assists. "I never really got nervous about losing. I think it was more like, 'OK, we need to extend this lead and step it up.'"
That's what happened in the fourth. Iowa dominated the final frame, 16-10, and wouldn't you know it: It committed just one turnover.
"I think our team understands that basketball is a game of momentum," Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said. "Swings happen within the game, and we had a run, they get a run. It happens, and you just have to not lose your confidence or lose your cool or composure when those things happen, and I think our team — and I think Ally (Disterhoft), the senior out there — really leads them and helps them with those type of situations."
Added a smiling Doyle: "We got the win, so I’m a happy camper."
Gustafson and Disterhoft were consistent bright spots on the offensive end. Gustafson tied a career high with 25 points to go along with 12 rebounds for her 11th double-double this season. Disterhoft grabbed nine boards and scored 20 — her fifth time with 20 or more this season and first time since she scored 24 at Drake on Dec. 18.
Iowa improves to 14-8 and 5-4 in the Big Ten, where it's tied with Indiana for sixth place. It entered Thursday sitting at 54 in RPI; Rutgers was at 182. RPI doesn't consider margin of victory.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.