Iowa women triumph after slow start

Matt Cozzi
Iowa's Ally Disterhoft drives against Tennessee-Martin's Haley Howard at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The start for the Iowa women’s basketball team was about as slow as possible on Sunday.

Iowa scored its first points 4:21 into the game and opened 0-for-7 from the field. Meanwhile, Tennessee-Martin piled up a 10-0 run to stake out an early lead.

No matter.

The Hawkeyes (2-0) finished the first quarter on an 8-0 run, traded jabs with UT-Martin in the second quarter, then built a sizeable lead in the third and fourth frames en route to a 62-56 win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa also started slowly Friday night in a season-opening 83-61 win over North Dakota.

“I don’t like starting in that hole,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Both nights we’ve had two slow starts, so we have to fix that. We have to be ready to go right off the bat.”

UT-Martin (1-1) wasn’t a pedestrian opponent. The Skyhawks are three-time defending Ohio Valley Conference champions and won 22 games last season.

They controlled the tempo early on, but the Hawkeyes stormed back.

Bluder’s club shot 54.5 percent from the field in the second half after shooting 33.3 percent before the break. They also took advantage at the free-throw line, going 13-for-15.

Freshman Tania Davis led in scoring with 12 points. Juniors Ally Disterhoft and Alexa Kastanek each added 11 points — with Disterhoft eclipsing the 1,000-point mark for her career. Freshman Megan Gustafson had 10 points, Chase Coley eight, and Kali Peschel seven.

Davis also led the team in rebounds with six and assists with four, providing a spark off the bench in her 29 minutes on the floor.

“Coming in, I was just looking to play my role,” Davis said. “Do my defensive job, move the ball on offense, take the open shot when it’s open. Luckily, my shots fell in and my defense followed.”

Iowa didn’t take its first lead until late in the second quarter when Disterhoft completed a three-point play with 1:07 remaining. Both teams were tied at 26 at halftime. The Hawkeyes lead by as many as seven at one stage in the third.

Despite the early struggles, Iowa never lost control.

“I don’t think we panicked,” Bluder said. “We kept our composure. Sometimes when you get into that deficit, you can start to panic and throw up really bad shots, and we just didn’t do that.”