Iowa City, IA — Carver Hawkeye Arena rattled with ruthless basketball on Wednesday (Nov. 30) as No. 1 ranked Notre Dame took on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a nail biter that closely resembled a “brawl.” While the Fighting Irish still took home the win by a final score of 73-58, thanks to the hustle of Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen, Arike Ogunbowale and Brianna Turner, the Hawks scathed the Irish in a way head coach Muffet McGraw won’t forget.
McGraw commented on her team’s third quarter scare when the Hawkeyes nearly captured the lead twice, trailing by as few as two points behind Notre Dame.
“I don’t think we were doing anything well,” McGraw said. “We weren’t taking the ball, our guards weren’t boxing out, we weren’t making layups, we weren’t making good decisions, I mean we just couldn’t wait for the buzzer to go off, we just wanted the game to be over.”
Megan Gustafson led the surge of Hawkeye power, putting up six points alone in the third quarter alongside Chase Coley who wailed in four points. Gustafson achieved her fourth double-double of the season, proving to be an astronomical threat who aided Iowa on the glass with 11 rebounds and chipped in 16 points. The ladies of black and gold are the first team this season to out-rebound Notre Dame (40-34).
Hawkeye Head Coach Lisa Bluder lauded her team’s efforts in the first and second half.
“Well, I wish I could take back the first five minutes and the last five minutes, because I thought the middle was pretty good,” Bluder said. “I thought we fought hard. We fought back from a deficit to make it a good game.”
Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, the first and fourth quarters did matter, and Notre Dame unleashed their true fire within those critical minutes. Allen led the Fighting Irish once again with high assists - eight on the night - to add to her 600 career dimes achieved last week. Notre Dame certainly won the turnover battle, forcing a total of 23 while only committing 15 themselves.
Despite the storm sparked by steals, Notre Dame fell underneath Iowa in shooting percentage at times, a problem that could haunt the No. 1 ranked team later in the season. Both teams finished the night with a 45 percent clip from the field.
Bluder credits the Hawkeyes’ poor free throw performance for the loss.
“We've got to hit free throws,” Bluder commented. “Shooting 40 percent from the free throw line, you think what a difference mentally that would have made had we had six, seven, eight more free throws; that makes it a totally different game at the end. But too many turnovers resulted in too many easy points for Notre Dame. We've got to value the ball more.”
Disterhoft also stretched out an extra mile for the Hawkeyes, pouring in 18 of the team’s 58 total points. After tonight, Disterhoft has now notched double-figure points in 86 of her 92 career starts.
Although Iowa fell short, the Hawkeyes still walked off the floor with pride, leaving McGraw and her ladies in blue to focus on strategy in order to stay undefeated.
“We got turnovers right off the bat, I mean I think we got three straight turnovers on the first few possessions, [but this game], I think it’s a learning experience and a teaching moment,” McGraw said. “I was disappointed in the upperclassmen.”