Hawkeyes throttle Penn State in conference opener

Matt Cozzi

If Sunday was any indication, the Iowa women's basketball team will again have the best offense in the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes throttled Penn State for a 77-52 win in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the conference opener for both teams. Iowa (10-2, 1-0 Big Ten) never trailed during the game, taking a 9-0 advantage from the opening tip over the Nittany Lions, then 16-1, and as much as a 17-point lead late in the first half.

No. 23 Iowa led the Big Ten in scoring last season, setting a school record with 2,814 points. While coach Lisa Bluder's squad isn't on pace to break that record, they are still averaging 81.7 points per game following Sunday's contest.

Look out.

"I thought this was a good way to start the Big Ten," Bluder said. "It's just one game and it's going to be a grueling schedule. We have 17 more of these, but I thought we played well in a lot of different areas."

One week after posting 31 points with 10 3-pointers in a victory over Drake, senior Melissa Dixon made an impression on the score sheet against Penn State, as well. Dixon finished with 21 points, including a 5-of-12 performance from the 3-point line. She is now second all-time in three-pointers with 257, four away from Lindsey Meder's record of 261.

Four other players registered double figures. Bethany Doolittle added 12 points, and Ally Disterhoft, Whitney Jennings and Christina Buttenham all had 11. Doolittle surpassed the 1,000-point mark, becoming the 33rd 1,000-point scorer in school history and third on the team along with Dixon and Samantha Logic, who finished with eight points, six rebounds, and five assists over the Nittany Lions (3-9, 0-1).

Doolittle reflected on the milestone following the Black and Gold's 25-point win.

"It speaks to our play here at Iowa. It's unselfish basketball," Doolittle said. "Playing with people like Kamille Wahlin, Jaime Printy, Melissa Dixon, Sam Logic — just a great bunch of girls to say that I've played with. This is an assist-first mentality team, and you can see that in our all games we've played so far."

Iowa began the game 7-of-9 from the field, while Penn State underwhelmed on its first six possessions with a turnover, missed shot, two-straight turnovers, missed shot and another turnover.

"Penn State is a little bit of a younger team, they don't have a lot of experience, so that could really mess with you mentally when you're playing on the road that quickly," Bluder said. "That (16-1 lead) was a great way to start this game."

Bluder noted postgame the flu reached several members of the program over the past week. Dixon, Disterhoft, Kali Peschel and Alexa Kastanek were all affected. Iowa also had a short week of practice due to the holidays.

But none of that impacted what happened on the hardwood.

Disterhoft dished out a career-high eight assists, and Buttenham was 5-of-8 shooting for her career-high 11 points in a career-high 15 minutes, examples of the Hawkeyes leaving not too much to be desired despite some roadblocks.

"It was just a big win in general," Disterhoft said. "You always want to defend your home court, and that's what we did today. The Big Ten season is long and grueling, so to get that first win under our belt is nice."