Iowa City, IA — In a deep seeded rivalry, opponents don’t often topple without a vicious fight to the death, and in the case of the war over the title of basketball queens of the state of Iowa, the Hawkeyes lead a barbaric storm to swallow the Iowa State Cyclones whole.
With the enigmatic forces of double-double extraordinaire Megan Gustafson and backboard angel Ally Disterhoft, the Hawkeyes hauled home a victory of 88-76 holding off their cardinal and gold opponents for the majority of the game.
However, three Iowa players shell-shocked fans and Cyclones alike with transcendent performances: Tania Davis, Kathleen Doyle, and Christina Buttenham.
“I’m just so proud of our team, so many people stepped up [tonight],” Disterhoft lauded. “Tania made them pay, Kathleen made them pay, Christina made them pay, just to name a few so it was a huge team win and I think team basketball is the best basketball and that’s what we saw tonight.”
Walking onto the court, the Cyclones set their defensive sense on high alert for power plays from Disterhoft and Gustafson. But the real gusto came from stealthy point guard Tania Davis. The sophomore set career highs in points (23), field goals made (7), and 3-pointers made (5).
Paired up with a fierce defensive opponent, the face of the Iowa State Women’s Basketball team: Jadda Buckley, the player with a 48% shooting average, Davis and Buckley went head to head to walk off court in a battle for the number ‘11’, which each player, coincidentally sported on their jerseys.
Davis took the cake, though, as Buckley cashed in at 21 team points -- two behind Davis.
Buckley applauded Davis’ efforts for the Hawkeyes.
“She’s a great player, she has a lot of speed, she can dish it out to her teammates pretty well, but she can also take it to the hoop as you guys can see and knock down the three as well,” she said. “So she’s just very versatile and defending that you gotta be on your toes, hands up, but you also gotta stay back to protect the drive, so you have to play good defense all around.”
Whether it was rushing it to the hoop or swooshing from the three point line, Miss Davis slew on the floor tonight. She credited her performance to motivating words she received from Disterhoft.
“It felt great, you know, during shoot around today Ally told me, ‘if they’re not gonna play make ‘em pay, go off at thirty’ and I literally took that to heart, so I brought my best game today, and I just didn’t want to lose because I didn’t want to see what Coach Bluder would be like tomorrow,” the guard laughed.
Another surprise came from freshman Kathleen Doyle. Doyle swiped three steals, the most of any player in the game, letting the Cyclones eat her dust as she took easy layups on an open court. The firecracker set career highs in points (17), field goals made (6), and 3-pointers made (2) just like her teammate Davis.
“In games, I just try to bring my energy on the defensive end because that usually leads to great offense for our team so I just try to provide whatever spark I can,” Doyle said. “There was a lot of energy going into this game, and I knew how big it was so I just tried to do whatever I could to help my team win.”
Buttenham, another budding freshman threat, played a fierce game, scoring 10 of the Hawkeyes points.
Iowa State played “catch-up” for a majority of the game. While the first quarter was mostly neck-and-neck, from quarter two onward the Hawkeyes held as high as a 20-point lead.
Cyclone Head Coach Bill Fennelly said he felt Iowa ultimately played a better game.
“I thought we competed, but we didn’t guard them enough, and we certainly couldn’t make anywhere near enough shots to have a chance to win,” Fennelly said. “There were a couple of times where there wasn’t anyone near them, and we missed [shots] but that’s the game, that’s the beauty of the game and the frustration of the game.”
While Hawkeye Head Coach Lisa Bluder feared State’s shooting capabilities from behind the arc, a team who averages 43%, the Hawkeyes conquered the apparent three-point machines, shooting at 61.9% from 3-point range.
“They're a great three-point shooting team, and we talked. One of our keys to the game was no uncontested threes. Every three had to be contested, and our three-point field goal percentage defense has been very good this year, and we're proud of that and want to continue to do that,” Bluder said.
For seniors like Disterhoft, walking out of the Carver Hawkeye Area feels beyond legendary.
“I mean it’s just awesome as a senior to go out with a ‘W’ against the biggest in-state rival that there is,” Disterhoft said. “I mean everyone wants to say it’s a Cyclone state, it’s a Hawkeye state, but to be able to say it’s a Hawkeye state after we beat them on our home court definitively is awesome.”