CLOSE

The Hawkeyes were happy to bounce back Sunday against Wisconsin. Hawk Central

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

IOWA CITY, Ia. — There’s nothing like the comfort of your own home.

Iowa needed this therapeutic trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena after Thursday’s Maryland trouncing — and Wisconsin was a good sport. Against a team it owns in a building it owns, Iowa rolled to a 97-71 win in front of an energetic, pink-clad Sunday crowd. The Hawkeyes (21-5, 12-3 Big Ten Conference) have won 34 straight at home and 22 in a row over the Badgers (11-15, 3-12).

"It was definitely fun to be back on our home court," senior Kathleen Doyle said. "We had such a great attendance today. We always do really, and we have the best fans in the nation. So it was really fun to get back out there in front of them." 

Not that Iowa needed any extra focus — but Wisconsin did give the Hawkeyes a significant scare on Jan. 19, before blowing a 52-35 second-half lead en route to an 85-78 Iowa win. The Hawkeyes weren’t waiting around on this day.

An 18-8 run to start things gave Iowa the first of many double-digit leads. Doyle, Monika Czinano, Alexis Sevillian, McKenna Warnock and Gabbie Marshall all scored during that momentum-snatching stretch. A 51-38 halftime cushion grew larger in the third quarter. A serious Wisconsin run never came.

"We won every quarter and had four people in double figures; I like that balance. We shot the ball well from every area," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. "We received good bench play -- Gabbie Marshall, McKenna came off the bench and did a great job.

“We know McKenna is capable of putting up a lot of points. It’s significant to have a weapon like that off the bench.”

Doyle led Iowa with 22 points and got double-digit help from Warnock (20 points), Czinano (19) and Makenzie Meyer (13). Amanda Ollinger pulled down 10 more rebounds. Marshall added eight points off the bench as well.

For Warnock, this was a battle plus something extra. The Marshall, Wisconsin, native went to high school near Badger land and grew up with Wisconsin red all around. A fitting time for the freshman to show out with one of better early performances. 

"Growing up around Wisconsin basketball, and then going to its rival school, is a big deal," Warnock said. "It was exciting to play them, they are always fun to play." 

Iowa's only concern on this day came late. Doyle went down near the Badger bench and was helped to the Iowa sideline midway through the fourth quarter, clearly shaken up a bit.  

Her day ended with a loud appreciation cheer.

“I just ran into a screen,” Doyle said with a laugh. “Hard.”

As frustrated as Iowa was after losing control of the top spot in the Big Ten race, the upcoming schedule allows for anything to happen. Sunday’s win was the first of three straight home games, including a week off until Saturday's showdown versus Penn State.

The Hawkeyes sit one game back of Maryland and a half game behind Northwestern with two regular-season weeks remaining. For now, Iowa can focus on what it does best and let the rest play out.   

"Bouncing back from Thursday, we needed that great fan support," Bluder said. "For that many people to come and support us, we were thrilled and can't thank our fans enough."

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 msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE