Iowa City, IA --- Carver-Hawkeye Arena rattled with more than just the cheers of fans and the squeak of Nikes on the hardwood at the Iowa women’s basketball exhibition game. The arena shook with the sweet sound of a basketball ricocheting off the glass into the net for a Hawkeye victory over Lewis University by a final score of 61-35.
With stars like Ally Disterhoft, Tania Davis, and Megan Gustafson striving to prove their team’s worth of a spot in the NCCA tournament, the ladies in black and gold unleashed their fire to defeat the Flyers. Not to mention, the surprising tenacity showcased by Iowa’s newly acquired weapon in freshman Makenzie Meyer.
Coach Bluder was proud of her Hawks’ defensive prowess in the exhibition.
“I liked our defensive intensity [today],” the 17-year-tenured head coach said. “Last year we weren’t the best defensive team, and I thought we came out and played terrific defense. And we certainly had a height advantage, so we used it.”
Despite the lack of height on the floor for the Flyers, the Division II school put up an aggressive defensive fight in the first quarter. They kept a close eye on Disterhoft, who reaped quite the defensive whiplash from Lewis University’s Alyssa Siwek.
Offensively, Gustafson and Davis supplied the Hawks with a bombardment of fast breaks, which was clearly a key to Iowa’s success. However, Iowa’s turnovers got the best of them to a certain extent.
“We had way too many turnovers in the first half,” Bluder said. “We were trying to play too fast, too excited.”
Quarter two brought plenty of retaliation for the Flyers, but the Hawkeyes responded with harsh backlash once Disterhoft found a way to escape the clutches of Siwek.
Meyer also began proving her worth to the team, sinking back-to-back buckets, positioning herself as a looming threat for the coming season.
“It felt good,” Meyer said of her performance. “I’m glad I got experience at both positions [one and two tonight].”
Iowa revealed their true colors in the second half after racking up 37 of their points in the final two periods. Disterhoft and Davis emerged in quarters three and four as a lethal weapon when they combined their talents.
Coach Bluder utilized a platoon system, rotating her starting line-up in with a secondary line-up once every quarter. Davis believes the fresh feet helped out.
“We came together and settled down a little bit more than in the first half,” Davis said. “With the platoon system, you have five fresh people in every time, so I think that definitely helped us at the end of the third [quarter] and beginning of the fourth [quarter].”
Davis has set out to be a vocal leader on the floor this year, and her incredible fourth quarter performance further proved that she has what it takes. Lobbing a pass to Disterhoft all the way across the court for an easy bucket, Davis’s reading of the defense gave the Hawkeyes an edge.
With 10 assists and nine points on the night, Davis is building up as no longer just a sidekick, but instead, a second Wonder Woman alongside Disterhoft.
“In my opinion, it’s just been fun stepping into that leadership role,” Davis said. “You know last year I was kind of just the person that was always in the background just listening to Ally or the seniors […] but now just stepping up and being more of a vocal leader and taking that into account, I just thank Ally for allowing me to do it.”
Davis and Disterhoft continued their hot play in the fourth quarter, sinking five and four points, respectively. The magic of the “Double D” will certainly be something to fear for opponents come the regular season.
Disterhoft looks forward to seeing big plays from the new faces on the squad. She credited the freshmen’s performance on the floor.
“I think [the newcomers] did a good job,” Disterhoft said. “I’ve been impressed with them from the get-go. The energy they bring both offensively and defensively, I really think that showed tonight.”
The Hawkeyes will take on Oral Roberts on Friday, Nov. 11 at 6 P.M. CT for their first official game of the season.
“We’re excited to be able to open it up for real on Friday night,” Bluder said.