Iowa women's basketball: What we learned from the No. 18 Hawkeyes' win over Michigan

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Their northern visitors toyed with an upset for a half, then the Hawkeyes clamped down to put things away. Iowa leaned on the third quarter Monday night. That period was friendly once again.

Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer (3) attempts a basket while being defended by Michigan forward Hailey Brown (15) during a NCAA Big Ten Conference women's basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

A Hawkeye surge out of the break buried Michigan Thursday night as No. 18 Iowa rolled in the second half to a 75-61 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The victory keeps Iowa (13-4, 4-2 Big Ten Conference) undefeated at home this season.

Michigan (11-6, 2-4) scored the first two third-quarter points to pull within one before watching the Hawkeyes rip off a 20-5 game-clinching run. Perhaps most encouraging was the fact that Megan Gustafson had only four points during that surge.

Back-to-back treys from Makenzie Meyer and Tania Davis had the home crowd pumping. Hannah Stewart, Kathleen Doyle, Alexis Sevillian and Amanda Ollinger all contributed to the scoring as well.

"I loved our third quarter," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "Shot the ball well, defended well. We held them to nine points in that quarter. But also, we were having trouble boxing out in the first half. We held them to one offensive rebound in the second half. We only had two turnovers in the second half.

"... Just so many good things that are happening with this team."  

Iowa, per usual, took control inside, getting a combined 37 points from Stewart and Gustafson. But the guard play more than sufficed, even though the outside shooting wasn’t the crispest. Doyle and Davis reached double figures. The Hawkeyes piled up 25 assists.

Iowa didn’t want to waste Monday’s nice road win with a Thursday dud. Mission accomplished, as Bluder’s squad is now in a four-way tie for second place in the Big Ten.

Here’s what we learned:

Cleaning it up

After five turnovers in the opening quarter, it looked as if sloppiness would outweigh the sharing. But the Hawkeyes cleaned up their act. Iowa had just four turnovers the rest of the way.

Miscues are going to happen in this offense, but silly ones are still avoidable. The Hawkeyes, which came in averaging 14-plus turnovers per game, were sharper down the stretch than early on.

"With us, it's all about being patient," Davis said. "Just reading the defense, taking our time in understanding and seeing what they're doing on Megan, what they're doing on ball screens. We can prepare for something for two days, and then on gameday, they come in and do something completely different. 

"But once we get in the groove of things, once we understand and figure out what they're doing defensively, we make those adjustments."  

Locking it down

Inevitably, some were good looks that didn’t fall — but credit Iowa mostly for Michigan’s struggles from deep. The Wolverines were 1-for-15 from beyond the arc, missing their first 10.

It’s not like Michigan doesn’t use the downtown weapon. The Wolverines entered shooting 40 percent from deep while averaging 12 threes. But Iowa clamped down on the outside while running away with this one.   

"Our guards are playing screens better," Bluder said. "They're getting around them quicker, contesting shots better because they're able to be there. If you get hung up on a screen, you can't contest a shot. 

"But if you can move your feet and get around, now you're in a position to contest a shot. So I'm happy with the way our defense was moving its feet a lot better."    

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.