Turnovers. They can rob your offense of scoring chances, can gift your opponent easy baskets, and can shift momentum. Tonight for Iowa they did all three. The Hawkeyes turned the ball over 23 times, and Maryland capitalized, defeating the Hawkeyes 80-64.
Early on, turnovers didn’t look like they’d be the main story. The Hawkeyes did turn it over a few times in the opening quarter, but it was Maryland’s offense that took center stage. They started off the game hot, hitting a majority of their shots and using their shooting advantage to jump out to a 31-17 first quarter lead. The problem for Iowa early was defensive. They came out in a machup zone that resulted in too much space for Maryland to drive for easy baskets. When they weren’t driving, their guards were hitting open threes.
In the second quarter, Maryland went cold. Iowa shifted to a 2-3 zone, and it became harder for Maryland to find shots in the paint. Iowa made a couple runs in the quarter—getting a close as eight —but turnovers and a couple late Maryland baskets extended the lead back to 49-38. Still, the Hawks were hanging around and an upset seemed at least possible.
Then the third quarter happened. Maryland wasn’t particularly great in the quarter. They scored only 12 points and looked as though they lost much of their early rhythm. The Hawkeyes, however, were worse. They started turning the ball over in bunches and when they did get shots off, they weren’t falling. Iowa scored only eight points in the quarter, and were down 61-46 after three.
The 4th quarter started off even worse. Iowa still wasn’t protecting the basketball and Maryland began to hit their open threes. The Terrapin lead got as high as 25 in the quarter. Iowa did start taking better care of the basketball in the second part of the quarter, and went on their own run, closing the lead down to 16 by the end of the game.
Megan Gustafson led Iowa with 15 points and 15 rebounds on 5-8 shooting. Kathleen Doyle also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, though she shot only 5-17 from the field. Chase Coley (9), Alexis Sevillian (8), and Hannah Stewart (8) all got close to double figures.
Kaila Charles led Maryland with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Blair Watson added 13 points and Channise Lewis had 11 points and 8 assists for the Terrapins. Full stats from the game are here.
Kathleen Doyle had another good game. She had nine assists in the first half, and was key to Iowa breaking Maryland’s three-quarter court press. She didn’t shoot well in the first half, but did rebound in the second to make five field goals, including three three pointers.
Megan Gustafson had another good game, though it wasn’t quite up to some she’s had this year. She was efficient in scoring and continues to shoot great from the free throw line. Her 15 rebounds were part of the reason that Iowa and Maryland ended the game with 46 rebounds apiece.
Finally, despite the high number of turnovers, Iowa looked fairly good at breaking Maryland’s press. They got the ball to the middle on almost every possession, and numerous times their quick press break gave them a numbers advantage that led to an easy basket. Given Iowa’s depth issues, I expect them to see more pressure down the stretch. They showed tonight that they can make teams pay for that pressure.
The turnover number has to be lower. Too often tonight Iowa turnovers led to easy Maryland buckets at times when they were struggling to score. Worse still, most of the turnovers weren’t the result of high risk/high reward passes. Instead, they came when Iowa was trying to force a pass they didn’t need to, or when an Iowa player got in trouble and threw the ball away. The turnovers were also a team effort. Six Iowa players had at least two turnovers, and three of them had five. Maryland, meanwhile, had only seven turnovers. A negative 16 turnover differential won’t win many games.
Another concern was that Gustafson only had eight shots on the night. The problem wasn’t that her teammates didn’t look for her, though. Rather, it was the way they tried getting her the ball. Too often Iowa would pass the ball to a wing and immediately look for an entry pass to Gustafson on the block. Maryland was doubling her in their zone, though, and Iowa often turned the ball over by forcing an entry pass. Instead, they need to swing the ball around the perimeter more or look to drive. In both cases, the zone is forced to move and it’s harder to double a player. Once the zone is moving, it should be easier to get Gustafson entry passes and let her go to work.
Finally, Iowa didn’t shoot great tonight—they shot 38% from the floor and 29% from 3-point range. Iowa’s 3-point shooting will be particularly important going forward. Teams are going to keep doubling Gustafson, which will result in the perimeter being open. If they start hitting their open 3s, the zone will have to get out on shooters and the paint will be open for Gustafson and Iowa’s other posts.
It’s unfortunate that this is Iowa’s only meeting against Maryland of the regular season. Getting Makenzie Meyer back will give Iowa another scoring threat and another guard who can handle the ball and possibly limit turnovers. Even with Meyer, Iowa would be an underdog against the Terrapins, but the two teams are closer than the game tonight showed.
Iowa returns to action Sunday at 1 PM CT at Illinois. The Illini are 9-8 overall and 0-3 in Big Ten play. Their next home game is a week from Saturday (1/13) at 3 PM against Purdue.