Iowa women's basketball: What we learned from the No. 17 Hawkeyes' win over N.C. Central

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The men’s basketball team kicked off the week with an emphatic New York showing. The wrestling squad rolled in Friday’s season-opening victory. The football team bounced back with a riveting nine-touchdown win.

Saturday, it was Lisa Bluder’s turn to finish off the Hawkeye dominance. Her bunch did so with ease.

After a so-so first 10 minutes, No. 17 Iowa hit the second-quarter gas and rolled to a 106-39 win over North Carolina Central at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Four Hawkeyes (3-0) reached double figures, led by Megan Gustafson’s 20 and Makenzie Meyer’s 16.

"We brought a team in that we were better than, but the thing is, you can let up sometimes. Sometimes, you can start playing to your opponents' level, and what I'm happy about is we didn't do that," Bluder said. "We kept the intensity high."   

Iowa sported a modest 17-10 lead with eight turnovers after a quarter, but the Hawkeyes outscored North Carolina Central, 30-8, in a game-changing second. Iowa dominated on the glass and shared the love, per usual. The Hawkeyes' 36 assists set a single-game school record.

This game wasn’t supposed to be close, and it wasn’t. Iowa now has nearly a week between games before its nonconference schedule cranks up.

Here’s what we learned:

Human, but still really good

When asked earlier in the week about her 13-for-13 shooting performance at Western Kentucky, Gustafson shrugged it off with nonchalance. The answer wasn’t an arrogant one, rather reflecting the lofty expectations Iowa’s all-American puts on herself.

Gustafson carried perfection into Saturday, then added to it before proving that she is indeed human. After starting the game 3-for-3, Gustafson missed two layups right before the first-quarter horn.

That snapped a streak of 17 consecutive makes, dating back to last Friday’s season opener versus Oral Roberts.

You would’ve thought Gustafson missed the game-winner the way she clapped her hands in frustration following the unsuccessful bunnies (she still finished 9-for-13 with a double-double in 23 minutes).

"That happens sometimes," Gustafson said with a smile as her coach and teammate laughed beside her postgame. "I know the last game, I made 100 percent. Just have to move on from it."  

Iowa forward Megan Gustafson (10) looks to pass during an NCAA women's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

That’s essentially where we’re at with Gustafson. Any miss, certainly ones right near the rim, is surprising.

More downtown action

Meyer picked up right where she left off following Tuesday’s shooting clinic, going 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-8 from deep. North Carolina Central left her wide open in the corner several times, and Meyer made the Eagles pay.

"I don't really have a hot spot," Meyer said before Gustafson interjected with "all of them."

"I guess the corner." 

Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer (3) shoots a 3-point basket during an NCAA women's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Eight assists and four rebounds made it a complete stat line. Meyer’s veteran court presence and overall stability is paramount for Iowa throughout the season, but especially right now with Kathleen Doyle sidelined.

So far, so good.

Plenty of newbie action

In a game that got ugly quickly in the second half, Iowa took full advantage in getting its freshmen extensive action. Monika Czinano, Logan Cook and Tomi Taiwo all played double-figure minutes, including a large chunk of the second half.

All had successful moments. Czinano — Iowa’s post of the future — poured in 15 points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes. Cook drained three treys and grabbed seven boards, while Taiwo dished out four assists.

Iowa's Monika Czinano (25) attempts a shot during an NCAA women's basketball game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Squeezing every ounce of productivity out of every game is paramount, even in a contest this lopsided. Extended newcomer minutes certainly qualifies.    

"I thought it was really important for us to get a lot of experience for those younger kids tonight," Bluder said. "Because we're going on the road to play back-to-back games." 

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.