Cy-Hawk women's basketball: Tania Davis' game-winner lifts Hawkeyes to thrilling win over Iowa State
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The women went first in this week’s Cy-Hawk doubleheader. Good luck to the men in trying to top Wednesday’s thriller.
Back-and-forth the in-state rivals went deep into the fourth — separation almost impossible to find. Iowa and Iowa State usually don’t disappoint when they tango in early December. This one was no different.
The Hawkeyes had the final say. Tania Davis’ trey with 2.3 seconds remaining gave Iowa a 73-70 win over the Cyclones at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"I told Tania, 'That's a shot you're going to remember for the rest of your life,'" Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said. "I'm so happy for her. What she's been through — for her to have an opportunity for a game-winner in her senior year, especially against Iowa State — it's pretty awesome."
After Bridget Carleton split a pair of free throws to pull even, 70-70, the Hawkeyes called a timeout with 27 seconds to go and drew up a play. With all-American Megan Gustafson heavily guarded all night, the original plan was to go Hannah Stewart. But Iowa State locked in down low.
So Davis did it herself.
She connected, followed by a Hawkeye roar. A potential game-tying trey from Ashley Joens clanked off target.
No team led by more than four points in the fourth quarter as a solid Iowa crowd roared and silenced with every possession. There were 12 ties and 10 lead changes throughout
"That was a great game for the sport, great game for the state," Cyclones coach Bill Fennelly said. "Couldn't be more proud of our team. I love this team. I love the way they play. I love the way they compete.
"But you go 9-for-17 from the free-throw line — the other guys go 15-for-15 — you're going to lose on the road. That's kind of what happened."
Kathleen Doyle led Iowa with 22 points in a surprise return from a fractured left hand. Stewart added 14 points and Megan Gustafson had a double-double (13 points, 16 rebounds) in what was a quiet night by her standards. She took just seven shots.
Iowa State got 20 points from Alexa Middleton and 21 from Bridget Carleton, who heated up late after a slow start. Her layup with 49.1 seconds remaining handed the Cyclones a 69-68 lead.
But Carleton’s missed free throw opened the door for a game-winner. Davis answered the call.
A surprise addition
Iowa coach Lisa Bluder provided little information Monday that Doyle would return this week, but an x-ray that day revealed enough progress in her fractured hand to give it a go.
The junior guard didn’t start, but she still made plenty of contributions off the bench.
"We did not get a call from our hand specialist until 4 o'clock Monday," Bluder said. "So we did not know (she'd be able to go until then), and we didn't practice until Tuesday. She had one practice leading up to this game."
After pouring in all nine of her first-half points in the second quarter, Doyle was instrumental in countering Iowa State’s second-half push. She answered the Cyclones’ 7-0 third-quarter run with five straight.
There was clearly some rust — a couple open shots she missed badly — but Doyle’s return was much needed for the Hawkeyes.
"It was more of adrenaline getting me through thanks to our great crowd," Doyle said. "I was willing to do anything to help our team win."
More records fall
Gustafson’s name is already splattered all over the Iowa record books. Wednesday marked another impressive entry.
Needing four boards to become the program’s all-time leading rebounder, Gustafson reached the milestone before the first quarter ended. She’s passed Cindy Haugejorde (1976-80), who’s 1,067 rebounds led the category for more than 30 years.
More records will fall soon. Gustafson entered the game needing 23 points for 2,000 in her career, a mark only two other Hawkeyes have reached. She's 10 back heading into Saturday versus IUPUI.
The transfer shows up
On a night when Joens and Carleton weren't at their best — they finished a combined 9-for-28 and 1-for-12 from deep — Middleton picked up the slack. The Tennessee transfer showed why Fennelly has raved about her addition.
Middleton was the offensive catalyst throughout, consistently giving Iowa State life when the Cyclones needed it most.
She waited in the wings last season as the team struggled without a true point guard. No such issues this year.
"I think the key was just to be aggressive and look for my shot," Middleton said, "and at the same time, look for others who were open."
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.