IOWA CITY – Makenzie Meyer rediscovered her shooting touch on the other end of the court Monday night for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
A steal that led to a lay-up provided the jumpstart the junior guard had been looking for, helping send the 17th-rated Hawkeyes on their way to a 71-53 Big Ten over Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa’s 20th straight win in the series.
Meyer topped 50 percent from the field for the first time in 10 games, knocking down three of the first four shots she attempted on her way to being among four Hawkeyes who scored in double figures against the Badgers.
“It’s been a little tough. As a shooter, I feel like other people have had more confidence in me than I’ve had in myself,’’ Meyer said. “Sometimes, it takes a play or two on defense to turn things around and get you going.’’
Meyer scored half of her 10 points in the opening quarter, burying a 3-point basket at the onset of a 14-2 run over the final 4 minutes, 48 seconds of the opening quarter.
As the Badgers’ defense collapsed around Megan Gustafson, the Hawkeye backcourt found room to roam.
Meyer’s early points were complemented by Kathleen Doyle, who scored eight of her 15 in the first quarter as well.
“Our guards did a good job of getting us going,’’ Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Kathleen hit some shots and it was good to get Makenzie going and put four in double figures. That’s when we become hard to guard.’’
Gustafson eventually got her points as well, recording her 13th double-double of the season. The senior finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds as part of an effort which saw Hannah Stewart score 11.
All but four of Gustafson’s points came after the early surge pushed Iowa in front to stay, erasing an early 11-7 deficit and sending the Hawkeyes on their way to a 34-27 halftime lead.
Wisconsin, using 22 points from freshman Imani Lewis, kept things close.
The nation’s leading team in rebounds, the Badgers maintained a 40-36 advantage on the boards that kept Wisconsin within a 40-34 score following a Lewis basket midway through the third quarter.
Iowa scored the game’s next 11 points, a run fueled by a steal and a lay-in by Tania Davis.
Doyle followed with a 3-point basket that preceded baskets in transition by Meyer and Doyle that extended the Hawkeye lead to 51-34 with 2 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Badgers (10-6, 1-2 Big Ten) came no closer than nine points the rest of the game as Iowa limited Wisconsin’s leading scorer Marsha Howard to two points, 11 below her season average.
“We played good team defense, good team basketball,’’ Bluder said.
The Hawkeyes (11-3, 2-1) finished with assists on 23 of their 29 baskets and turned the ball over just 10 times while moving to 8-0 at home.
Iowa plays its next two games on the road, visiting Purdue (10-5) at 7 p.m. on Thursday before playing at Minnesota (12-2) next Monday night.