Iowa got the win it badly needed on Thursday to end a rough stretch that dated back nearly three weeks.
The fact it came against the team that started the Hawkeyes' decline on Jan. 7 was just a bonus.
Four players scored in double figures and Iowa had 21 assists on 25 made baskets as the Hawkeyes snapped a three-game losing skid with an 85-69 win over Michigan (11-9, 3-6 Big Ten) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Chase Coley and Megan Gustafson both had double-doubles for Iowa (14-7, 4-5) as the Hawkeyes avenged a 82-75 loss at Michigan that started a string in which Iowa lost five of six games.
“I know Michigan is the one that kind of started this little downhill spiral for us for a second and it’s really fun to come back and show everyone that’s not the team we are,” Coley said. “We showed them tonight who we are tonight.”
After dropping a third straight game for the first time since 2013 on Sunday at Purdue, the Hawkeyes got back to what they do best on Thursday.
Coley had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Tania Davis had a career-high for the second straight game with 18 points and five assists.
Ally Disterhoft added 16 points and Gustafson notched her first career double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought Chase was outstanding tonight and then Tania I don’t know what I can say about her,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “She had a career-high in points, not only did she shoot the ball well with 18 points she had five assists and zero turnovers.”
Iowa needed every bit of it to fend off Kately Flaherty and the Wolverines.
Flaherty made her first nine shots while scoring 24 points in the game’s opening 15 minutes.
The sophomore guard finished with a game-high 31 points but had just seven points in the second half on 3-of-7 shooting. Davis spent the final two and half quarters face guarding the third leading scorer in the Big Ten.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Davis said of defending Flaherty. “Coming into the game we just planned on having a hand in the passing lane but with her scoring 24 in 15 minutes we had to go to the face guard and I definitely took that challenge.”
The Wolverines built a 41-32 second quarter lead before Iowa mounted a rally.
Iowa closed the first half on a 10-0 run that spanned the final 2:46 and started with four straight free throws from Coley, capped by back-to-back Davis 3-pointers.
The fourth 3-pointer of the opening half by Davis came with 1:18 left in the in the second quarter, giving Iowa a 42-41 lead it would take into the break.
“I thought that momentum that we took at the end of the second quarter into the locker room was huge,” Bluder said. “It was just a huge momentum boost for us in the locker room.”
Iowa never let the Wolverines back into the game the rest of the way.
Iowa opened the third quarter with a 12-3 run to build a 10-point cushion and never let Michigan get closer than four points.
Gustafson and Coley combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds in the second half alone as Iowa finished with a 39-31 rebounding edge that included 15 offensive rebounds.
After being outscored 30-13 in the fourth quarter at Michigan in the first meeting, Iowa had a 20-12 edge in the final 10 minutes on Thursday.
“I think we came out of the locker room feeling good about ourselves and we won every quarter tonight so that is good,” Bluder said. “Including the fourth quarter.”
Whitney Jennings added eight points and led Iowa with six assists.
The 21 assists for Iowa on Thursday were the most for the Hawkeyes since they had 21 in a win over Drake.
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.