There were many reasons to doubt whether Iowa could prevail over #12 Ohio State. The Hawkeyes were coming off of 3 straight losses, after all, and it had been weeks since their offense looked right. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are one of the Big Ten’s best teams and have one of the nation’s best guards, Kelsey Mitchell, at their disposal. It didn’t matter. Megan Gustafson proved why she’s the best player in the Big Ten, Kathleen Doyle outdueled Mitchell, and the Hawkeyes rolled to a 103-89 victory over the Buckeyes.
Iowa started strong out of the gate, taking a 20-6 lead in the game’s first few minutes thanks to their offense barely missing a shot. Gustafson and Chase Coley were finding plenty of open shots down low, and Ohio State didn’t seem to have an answer. Eventually Iowa’s shooting came back to Earth a bit, though, and the Buckeyes went on their own 15-4 run. Doyle ended that run by hitting a layup just before the buzzer to help Iowa carry a 26-21 lead—and momentum—into the second quarter.
The second period was mostly back and forth. Ohio State got close several times, but Iowa managed to maintain the lead through. The Hawkeyes then closed the quarter on a 15-10 run capped off by Doyle hitting another layup to just beat the buzzer. While the 15-10 run wasn’t particularly big, it did help Iowa take a nine point lead into the break.
Iowa continued its hot shooting to begin the third quarter, briefly extending its lead to 14. Then the Hawkeyes went cold and Ohio State battled back, drawing the game to within two. It was gut check time for Iowa. The Buckeyes were gaining confidence, and Iowa's offense had dried up. The Hawks responded. Iowa used another late run to stretch their lead back to eight to end the period. For the third straight quarter, Doyle hit a shot—this time a three with a hand in her face—just before the buzzer.
Iowa briefly extended its lead back to double-digits before Ohio State made a couple more runs, drawing as close as five in the final period. Each time, Iowa had an answer to keep the lead out of reach. Makenzie Meyer’s 3-pointer with 2:23 remaining swelled Iowa’s lead to 10 and effectively ended the contest. The Hawkeyes took care of business from there to win 103-89. It was the first time a team scored 100 points on the Buckeyes all season.
Gustafson led Iowa with 29 points and 5 rebounds. She went 11-14 from the free throw line. Doyle also had a stellar game, scoring 25 points and adding 11 assists. Chase Coley added a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Makenzie Meyer was Iowa’s last double-digit scorer with 18 points and 4-6 shooting from deep.
Kelsey Mitchell led Ohio State with 27 points, though she went only 10-26 from the field. Stephanie Mavunga had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but she was limited to 18 minutes due to foul trouble and fouled out of the game with over seven minutes left. Linnae Harper also had a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Asia Doss was the final Buckeye in double figures with 14 points. Final game stats are here.
Let’s start with Kathleen Doyle. She had the unenviable task of guarding the nation’s second leading scorer and an All American in Mitchell. Tonight, Doyle outplayed her. Her tough defense caused Mitchell to miss 16 shots. Offensively, she scored 25 points of her own and assisted on 11 baskets. She also found her 3-point shot again, going 4-8 from 3-point range. Finally, she managed to score the last point of every single quarter—something I can’t remember seeing before—including three buzzer beaters. If Doyle plays close to this level nightly, the sky’s the limit for the Hawkeyes this year and next.
Doyle’s big night shouldn’t take away from Gustafson, who was dominant in her own right. She was an efficient 9-14 from the floor and made 11 free throws. She was particularly effective early in the contest, as she had 20 points in the first half alone. With a strong performance against Nebraska on Sunday, she should break the Big Ten record for most player of the week performances in a season.
Man, it was good to see the deep ball falling. After several games of massive struggles from 3-point range, Iowa finally got it going again, going 9-17 from deep. Meyer was a big part of that, going 4-6 from long range in only her second game back from injury. Doyle also added four three pointers, and Alexis Sevillian hit her first in several games. Making threes is a big part of Iowa’s offense. Let’s hope tonight was a sign that things are returning to normal in that regard.
Finally, Iowa’s defense was fairly strong all night. Ohio State has scorers almost everywhere on the floor and like to push the tempo. Tonight Iowa’s defense held them to 41% from the field and 22% from 3-point range. All eight of the women who played deserve credit for their defensive intensity tonight.
Hey Lana, are there any negatives in a 14-point victory over Ohio State?
Iowa returns to action on Sunday, January 28th (2 PM CT, BTN Plus) against Nebraska. Iowa lost at Nebraska last week and will be looking for revenge on their home floor.